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Oak Park Police Department adds Community Service Dog to its ranks

June 28, 2021 - The Oak Park Police Department has expanded its ranks to increase community engagement and assist with officer wellness with its newest member, Pawfficer Howie.  

Howie is the new Oak Park Police Community Service Dog. The 21-month-old former rescue has undergone extensive training through SIT Service Dogs based in Ava, Illinois to prepare for his role in the police department.

“A community service dog not only can be an important part of our community engagement efforts, but also enhance officer wellness programs within the department,” said Police Chief LaDon Reynolds. “Having Howie at our station is comforting to officers who deal with incredibly stressful situations each day.”

Howie has undergone more than 1,250 hours of service training including training in Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT). DPT involves a dog using its weight to apply pressure to the person who is petting him. The pressure results in increased endorphin levels and releases serotonin and dopamine, hormones that stabilize moods and feelings of well-being. Howie will also assist with victim comfort services for traumatic incidents.

Pawfficer Howie will join sworn officers at community events to help bring awareness to the many outreach programs the police department offers like the Residential Beat Officer Program and Bike the Beat.

Howie will reside in the police department, located in the lower level of Village Hall. He has a dedicated room as well as many dog beds located throughout the station. Employees are encouraged to interact with him as he roams freely. A rotation of trained employees will be responsible for his care and feeding.

While his breed is unknown due to him being a former rescue, SIT Service Dogs believes Howie is a Labrador mix with traces of St. John’s Water Dog, due to the whiteness around his face, giving him a distinguished air for his fairly young age.

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Pawfficer Howie with members of the Oak Park Police Department.