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Raising funds for a ‘pawfficer’: ISUPD hopes to bring community engagement dog to Illinois State

Black lab looking at camera and panting

The Illinois State University Police Department (ISUPD) hopes to raise enough funds to bring a specially trained community engagement dog onto the team.

The Illinois State University Police Department (ISUPD) is hoping to add a new recruit this fall, though this one may be a little furrier than others.

The department is looking to adopt a dog specifically trained in police community engagement. Sage, a 2-year-old black lab, is certified by the Supporting Independence through Teamwork (SIT) Service Dogs. More than traditional therapy canines, dogs like Sage are trained as “pawfficers” to interact with the community.

Black lab jumping

Sage, a 2-year-old black lab, is certified by the Support Independent Teamwork (SIT) Service Dogs.

“Her greatest skill is affection,” said Laura Fox of the ISUPD. “Our hope is that the Redbird community will feel comfortable approaching officers and Sage, and she will be a bridge to conversations and connections.” Sage will join fellow officers at campus and public safety events. She will also be available for meet and greets with groups such as RSOs, and as a comfort for those filing a police report.

ISUPD needs to raise $4,000 through the Hatch crowdfunding page to bring Sage to Illinois State. The funds include support for her specialized training, adoption, and care. The goal is to have Sage join the ISUPD this fall. The community can get a glimpse of Sage through her Instagram page, #apinchofsage.

ISU Police Chief Aaron Woodruff said Sage will also provide a benefit to ISUPD employees. “This can be a stressful job. Having Sage here will give officers and dispatchers a chance to de-stress,” said Woodruff. “We hope everyone will help us bring our perfect ‘pawfficer’ candidate to campus.”

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