Once a malnourished stray, therapy dog helps Highland Park heal after parade shooting

Highland Park, Illinois — Heartbreak hangs heavy in Highland Park, Illinois, for the lives lost and dozens wounded in the Fourth of July parade shooting. But with the wag of a tail, tears are turning to smiles. 

Doing that work is Vinny-Duke, a 3-year-old Walker hound therapy dog who joined the Highland Park Police Department in March. 

“He holds us together when, you know, in the times we need it,” officer Michael Lodesky said. “Dogs can really absorb sadness and the awful situations that people are going through.”

The need has never been greater. Vinny-Duke, Lodesky and their partner, officer Darren Graff, were leading the parade when shots rang out. 

“This is our town. This is our community, we love these people,” Lodesky said. “And so, to see this kind of thing happen to the town that we’re sworn to protect, it’s not something that sits well.” 

Both Lodesky and Graff said Vinny-Duke made a difference the day of the shooting, and since then, has brought comfort to the community and the officers who have been working around the clock. 

“A simple pet, hanging out for a minute, kiss on the face, whatever he does, it can really just kind of shift your mood and shift your mindset,” Graff said. 

Once a malnourished stray, Vinny-Duke was trained by prisoners in Florida. He is now helping his forever home find some peace amid so much pain.

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Written by filmysector

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