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Memorial to honor Chicago police horses and dogs who died in the line of duty

Planners hope to install the “K9 & Equine Plaza” just east of Soldier Field by the fall of 2020.

A rendering of the what the “K9 & Equine Plaza” — a park that will honor Chicago police horses and dogs that died in the line of duty
A rendering of the “K9 & Equine Plaza” — a park that will honor Chicago police horses and dogs that died in the line of duty.
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Chicago police dogs and horses that died while performing their duties will soon have a memorial next to the one east of Soldier Field that honors fallen police officers, organizers of the project announced Tuesday.

The “K9 & Equine Plaza” will pay tribute to three horses and seven dogs. It will be an addition to the Gold Star Families Memorial and Park, which features a wall bearing the names of officers killed in the line of duty.

“It just made a lot of sense that we should honor these animals that helped police officers,” said Phil Cline, executive director of the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.

The foundation, which is overseeing the project, hopes to have the plaza designed, installed and dedicated by the fall of 2020.

The most recent police service animal to die while performing its duties was “Speed,” a member of the Mounted Patrol Unit. Speed was accidentally electrocuted in June 1997 when he stepped on a short-circuited, buried power line near the South Shore Country Club, where the mounted unit is located.

Other animals include Kirk, a dog that was shot by a robbery suspect in 1970; Max II, a dog that died after inhaling poison while tracking the scent of a burglary suspect in a grocery store in 1986; and Caesar, a dog that died in 1972 after falling 40 feet from a church choir loft while looking for a suspect who was wanted for shooting a police officer.

The nonprofit foundation dedicated to honoring the lives of fallen officers plans to raise $250,000 to fund the effort.

Don Levin, founder and chairman of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves hockey team, has donated $50,000 to kickstart the fundraising effort, Cline said.