‘Chicago Fire’ actor Kinney visits station for fund-raiser




by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI

"Chicago Fire" television series actor Taylor Kinney joined city Clerk Susana Mendoza and local aldermen to announce a competition among police officers and firefighters to raise money to provide service dogs for first responders.

The fund-raising effort was announced on April 12 at the Norwood Park fire station, 6030 N. Avondale Ave.

"I’m excited to be here, and this area of the city is dear to my heart because I don’t live too far from here, in Portage Park," Mendoza said. "It’s great to have such great first responders. Thanks for teaming up with our office, not just for this but every day of the year with some of the great folks here that represent the ward organizations who have been our partners at the city clerk’s office."

Mendoza said that the War Dogs Making it Home organization helps veterans manage the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder and brain injury by pairing them with rescue dogs that they train to be service dogs. This is the first time that War Dogs will work with Chicago first responders.

"These service animals are life-saving in many aspects to individuals that struggle day in and day out with injuries they have incurred in combat, and today we get to partner the dogs with police and fire," Mendoza said.

"We’re trying to raise funds to continue to train animals who are in need of great homes, so we have a competition going on between the Chicago police and Chicago fire," Mendoza said. "The challenge that we proposed is whoever raises the most amount of money out of the 16th District police and the local neighborhood fire station will win a service animal that will be trained by War Dogs and they will get to choose who will be the recipient of this animal."

Aldermen Anthony Napolitano (41st) said that as a former police officer and firefighter and having been raised in a family of military veterans, the idea behind the charity appeals to him as a great concept.

"The way I look at it is it’s not only a vet saving a dog but a dog saving a vet, and it is truly working," Napolitano said.

"It’s an honor to be here, and thank you to you guys and to the City of Chicago," Kinney, who plays lieutenant Kelly Severide, said. "I’m lucky to be able to do what I do, and I love being able to tell stories about you guys. I appreciate it. You guys are the real heroes."

"It wouldn’t be such a big turnout if Taylor wasn’t here," Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th) said. "I talked to him, and this is sort of his new home or home away from home for 10 months out of the year, and thank you for coming out and supporting raising money for police and fire to get some dogs. The odds are in their favor because there is a lot more police than firemen in this contest."

"We are excited for this initiative," War Dogs chief executive officer Eva Braverman said. "It’s really a natural extension of what we do for out combat vets to be able to do it for our first responders. Fire dog, police dog, it doesn’t matter. We will do the training, and it will be amazing."

The goal is to raise $3,000 for each service dog, one for a police officer and one for a firefighter.

Fifth Third Bank has donated $530 to each of the stations
to get them started on their efforts. Donations can be made by sending a check made out to "War Dogs" and specifying whether it’s for police or for fire to either the aldermen’s offices or the city clerk’s office.

"We wanted to keep it between the two local stations because Napolitano and Sposato were a police officer and a firefighter, and since Napolitano was both, we thought let’s just raise money for the both," City Clerk’s Office director of intergovernmental affairs Charles Hagopian Jr. said. "The police or the fire department will get to select who is in the most need to receive the service dog."

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