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Therapy dogs visit prisoners

Susan Knaack her therapy dog KublKhan visited Lake County Community Based Corrections Center Wednesday June 12. | Submitted photo

Susan Knaack and her therapy dog Kubla Khan visited the Lake County Community Based Corrections Center Wednesday, June 12. | Submitted photo

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Updated: July 20, 2013 6:41AM

WAUKEGAN — Canines could become regular visitors at the Lake County Jail after a recent visit by therapy dog Kubla Khan.

On Wednesday, June 12, Susan Knaack and her therapy dog went to visit the Lake County Community Based Corrections Center (CBCC), which is work release, and then they went into some of the female prisoner pods. The 155-pound Leonberger, a German mountain dog, was escorted along with jail chaplains and the positive effect could be seen with staff and prisoners.

“Dogs are a gift from God that soften our hearts. They allow us to love and be loved despite our brokenness,” said Sheriff Mark Curran.

This was the first time a therapy dog was brought into the CBCC and jail and it was also a first for Knaack and Kubla Khan, who had never visited a corrections facility. Both inmates and corrections officers enjoyed Kubla Khan’s visit.

“During and after Kubla Khan’s visit there was a noticeable reduction in tension and attitude inside the jail facility,” said Sgt. Sara Balmes, spokesman for the sheriff’s office.

The idea came from Burnett County jail in Wisconsin where they started having regular visits by therapy dogs with some very positive results for both staff and inmates. “We hoped it would benefit us as well,” she said.

Knaack’s organization, Adventures with Bailey, is a volunteer not-for-profit public charity providing animal-assisted therapy along the northshore communities. Kubla Khan and Knaack’s other therapy dogs are certified by Therapy Dogs International and frequent schools, nursing homes, hospitals and libraries. All dogs have current and complete vaccinations.

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