Therapy dog to work with young Lake County abuse victims
BY RUTH ANN KRAUSE Post-Tribune correspondent February 2, 2014 10:57PM
Buddy with Lake County police Detective Darrick Hurst. | Ruth Ann Krause/For the Post-Tribune
Updated: March 4, 2014 6:12AM
Buddy, a black Labrador mix who will be trained as a therapy dog for young Lake County residents who are the victims of abuse, worked the crowd like a seasoned politician.
Wearing his Lake County police badge on his collar, Buddy wagged his tail as he met about 100 guests, stopping occasionally to sniff for a crumb at a fundraiser Thursday night at Buddy and Pals Place in Crown Point.
Through a silent auction, raffle and donations, the event raised $2,500 to help defray training costs for the dog.
Sheriff John Buncich, who donated the rescue from the county animal control center and shelter, said the 6-month-old pup “is just one more way to connect with the children. We’re happy to have him on board.”
The therapy dog is a joint venture between the sheriff’s department and the Lake County prosecutor’s office. Buddy’s handlers, a husband and wife team, will work with Lake County children who have been abused sexually, physically or emotionally.
Once Buddy is trained, he can provide a calming presence from the first meeting the child has with a police investigator to forensic interviews to pretrial meetings with a deputy prosecutor and in-court testimony.
Buddy’s handlers, deputy prosecutor Catherine Breitweiser-Hurst and her husband, Lake County police Detective Darrick Hurst, will train with Buddy to comfort young victims and get them to open up during what can be a traumatic process.
Buddy also may accompany a child victim during court testimony, where Breitweiser-Hurst said he can sit behind the half-wall in front of the witness stand, hidden from the view of jurors.
“He’ll be trained to know he can’t move, bark or react to anything,” she said.
Alsip Nursery in St. John has donated food and grooming services. Training is expected to begin within one month. After that, Buddy will go through a service dog certification process, which can cost up to $500.
Buddy is the second therapy dog who will be working in Lake County. Lake Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr., of the juvenile division, is training with Moxie, an American mastiff who was donated at 8 weeks old.
Anyone interested in assisting with the cost of training and certification for Buddy can send donations to: Lake County Sheriff’s Department, 2333 N. Main St., Crown Point, IN 46307