A two-year-old canine, Billie, has joined the Vernon Hills Police Department as a wellness support dog. | Provided Photo

The Vernon Hills Police Department has announced its newest addition, Billie, a comfort dog that will help crime victims and people affected by traumatic incidents.

The department made the announcement of the wellness support dog during an assembly with Hawthorn District 73 students.

The addition of the comfort dog was due, in part, to a persuasive writing exercise assigned to District 73 sixth graders and judged by Vernon Hills Police Chief Patrick Kreis.

“We’ve done this persuasive writing exercise for several years, always themed around the addition of a patrol K9. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been a program we could justify to this point,” Kreis said.

“A dog to provide comfort and support to the community and Department staff, on the other hand, was entirely different. The essays these students wrote made many compelling points, and the decision to pursue a dog was an easy one after reading them,” Kreis said.

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Billie is a two-year-old female lab mix who received approximately 12 months of training in obedience and emotional support techniques.

She officially began working with the department earlier this month.

Billie will provide comfort to victims of crime and people affected by traumatic incidents, the police department said.

She will also be used to support department staff impacted by the stress of police work.

Billie’s title will be “Pawfficer” and she is intended to foster engagement from the public.

The canine will be at many community events and those in attendance are encouraged to interact with her. Tags on her service vest read “pet me.”

Billie was rescued and trained by SIT Service Dogs of Ava, Illinois.