First cows moved in on the Magnificent Mile.
Then came horses.
Now it’s gone to the dogs.
On Monday the Police Memorial Foundation announced that by week’s end, dozens of statues of police dogs will be installed along Michigan Avenue and surrounding streets, as well as a few other locations along the river or downtown. Eventually, 105 dogs will be set up in 48 locations.
The statues, each painted by a local artist, are part of a fundraising effort benefitting the Foundation, which provides support and assistance to the families of officers who are killed or catastrophically injured in the line of duty.
Each statue is sponsored by a company, family or individual who have the right to paint each dog how they like. Sponsors vary from law firms to pro sport teams, including the Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks, Cubs and White Sox.
About 70 canines help cops patrol Chicago daily, said Foundation President Phil Cline, noting that the “K9s for Cops” art project was a natural fit.
“Throughout my career I have seen countless rescues of abandoned dogs by police officers who go the extra step to get the dog treated by a vet, often at their own expense to ensure the dog has a second chance,” said Cline, a former Chicago police superintendent.
“I know many officers who, when all else fails, have taken a dog home and made it their pet when no one else wanted it,” he said.
A portion of the proceeds will also go to Paws Chicago, which will use the money to provide medical services and training to dogs in low-income communities.
The statues will “add to Chicago’s personality,” Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said at the news conference.
The precedent for colorful sidewalk statues in Chicago was set in 1999 by the Cows on Parade exhibit.
A series of other oddities have mixed with pedestrians on the Mag Mile since then.
They include life-sized horses (also benefitting the Police Memorial Foundation), giant-beach ball sized globes (promoting awareness of a warming planet) and oversized fire hydrants meant to honor city firefighters.
Sponsors of each dog statue donated $2,000 for the right to sponsor a dog. Each sponsor then can negotiate a fee with a local artist — from a list of artists provided by the Foundation — to decorate the statue.
More sponsorships are available, Cline said.
The statues will be removed from public display on Labor Day, at which point the they will either be bought by individual sponsors for $500 or stored to be auctioned at a later date.