Welcome, Charlie: Mount Prospect
Police Department Adopts Therapy Dog
By Richard Mayer | on September 15, 2023
Crime Prevention Officer Greg Sill (left), Charlie, and Police Chief Mike Eterno.
For the first time, the Mount Prospect Police Dept. has a therapy dog, in hopes the four-legged friend can help those in need in the future. Charlie, a yellow labrador who will turn 2 in November, was adopted by the police department from Chicagoland Lab Rescue based in Highland Park.
According to Crime Prevention Officer Greg Sill, who is also “Officer Friendly” and Charlie’s handler, the dog was living in Iowa and was surrendered to Chicagoland Lab Rescue this past spring, who fostered him with SOUL Harbour Ranch in Barrington, a provider of therapy services and training.
Sill said an email from the Palatine Police Boosters organization went out to local police departments in July informing local agencies two dogs were available for therapy services, Charlie one of the dogs. He shared that email with Police Chief Mike Eterno, and following a conversation, the department decided to move forward and officially adopt Charlie Aug. 9 from Chicagoland Lab Rescue.
Sill said the purpose of a therapy dog is to provide comfort to the community at-large, fellow officers, victims and witnesses in cases, various groups and school children.
“Studies show that dogs in general lighten people’s moods and decompresses and destress people when they pet or play with a dog,” Sill said. “When this opportunity came up, I and Chief Eterno talked about it and how it could fit with my role as ‘Officer Friendly’ and crime prevention as well as with community engagement programs.”
The department received a $4,000 grant to cover adoption, medical and training expenses, with most of those funds spent to date. To further cover costs, the village is using K9 dollars since the department at this time does not have a K9 unit following the retirement of the previous dog. The department’s K9 budget is $10,700.
“We are still in training, even though he came to us with some training,” Sill said. “Charlie and I are working together and becoming more familiar with one another. He picks up things very quickly and I do not anticipate it being a long and arduous training.”
Sill said he and Charlie are working toward certification with an organization that requires the dog and handler to be together for a minimum of six months prior to going out to the public. Things they are working on include obedience, distraction training and more.
“He is not a service dog where you can take him inside restaurants unless given permission,” Sill said. “He is a therapy or comfort dog.”
Charlie lives with Sill and his family and they go to work everyday together. So far, Charlie has brought smiles to police personnel, Sill said.
“They smile when they see him running down to them and greeting them,” Sill said. “His tail is mighty and the excitement he exudes from people I have seen personally so far in our staff, we know he will bring that same joy when we are certified and get out to the community.”
Sill anticipates next March is when Charlie will be able to meet members of the community on a regular basis.