This past summer, the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation in cooperation with PAWS Chicago launched a public art installation campaign and fundraising initiative called K9s for Cops. Some 200 German Shepherd Dog statues were installed in the Magnificent Mile and other locations to memorialize Chicago’s heroic fallen officers while supporting the families of police officers killed or catastrophically injured in the line of duty. The fiberglass dog statues were designed and painted by artists working with sponsors, and were auctioned off to raise money for the foundation.
Currently, 65 dogs work with the Chicago Police in finding bad guys, missing persons, tracking suspects, and detecting narcotics or explosives. Each dog exceeds the $5,000 price tag, but their service is priceless; one dog can do the work of over ten human police officers. The dog has minimal training when the department acquires him or her, and each dog and handler undergoes extensive training at the Chicago Police Department Canine Training Center in Des Plaines, Illinois for three to four months.
Not all of the department’s K-9s are German Shepherd Dogs. Last year, four Labrador Retrievers joined the GSDs and Belgian Malinois as part of Chicago’s K-9 unit.
Neither do all of Illinois police departments have canine units, and some are rectifying this. The Rolling Meadows Police Department recently brought back its police dog unit four years after it was disbanded. It cost that department $16,000 to train and certify a new dog, and another $56,000 for one fully-equipped police vehicle for the dog and its handler. It was all paid for by asset seizure funds — not taxpayer dollars.