Therapy dogs that work for the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center receive free Forest Preserve dog park permits paid for by a donation from Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 265 during the Thursday, November 8, Forest Preserve Board meeting. Pictured from left to right are: Cheri Johnson, therapy dog handler for the center; State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow, who established the center; Forest Preserve Commissioner Don Moran, the Sheet Metal Workers Union representative; and Board President Suzanne Hart. Therapy dogs Malley, Kiwi and Jackson are pictured.
A $500 donation from Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 265 will allow the Forest Preserve District to offer free dog park permits for therapy dogs, including five canines that work for the Will County State's Attorney's Office.
District Commissioner Don Moran, who facilitated the donation and serves as a representative for the union, presented the donation check to Forest Preserve Board President Suzanne Hart during the Board’s monthly meeting on Thursday, November 8.
"It's our honor to partner with the Forest Preserve and to provide permits for therapy dogs," Moran said.
The funds will offset the cost of dog park permit fees for qualifying therapy dogs that assist at Will County related service agencies and not-for-profits. The permits will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis until the fund is depleted.
"This amount will provide over one dozen permits for the 2019 season and, perhaps, even extend into the 2020 season," Hart said of the donation.
The first free dog park permits were issued to three canines assigned to the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center, which was established by State's Attorney James Glasgow in 1995 to improve investigations into cases involving the sexual abuse of children.
During the Board meeting, Glasgow thanked Moran and stressed how important the dogs are to the work that is performed at the center. He said the therapy dogs relieve the stress young children are experiencing when they give statements during investigations. Calmer children provide more credible and thorough statements, which are essential in convicting sexual predators, he added.
"You can't put a price on the work the therapy dogs do," Glasgow said. "And I'm sure they're going to enjoy their forays to the dog park."
Five Labrador retrievers work for the state's attorney's office. Accepting their permits in person were Jackson, Malley and Kiwi, who are assigned as therapy dogs to the Children's Advocacy Center. Cache, who searches for hidden electronic devices during the execution of search warrants, and Angus, who works in the problem-solving court system, also will be receiving free permits, but they were working and couldn't attend the Board meeting.
"The dog park permits are so important because these dogs are so calm when they are working, after work they need to blow off some steam and have fun and interact with other dogs," said Cheri Johnson, therapy dog handler and child sexual exploitation advocate and outreach coordinator for the center. "It's a great way for them to run and play and be regular dogs. Labrador retrievers need a lot of exercise."
Permits are required for canines to visit the Forest Preserve’s six dog parks, which are located in Crete Township, Homer Glen, Joliet, Naperville, Shorewood and Wesley Township. 2019 permits went on sale November 1 and are good for the remainder of 2018 and all of 2019. Permit discounts are available for senior citizens, veterans and active duty military.
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