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Child Advocacy Center of McHenry County raises money for comfort dog's surgery, recovery

A 3-year-old golden retriever named Apple, the furriest employee at the Child Advocacy Center of McHenry County, is in the business of making people comfortable.

But when Apple’s owner discovered a tumor in the dog’s jaw, it was Apple who needed comforting – and an expensive surgery.

A GoFundMe campaign for Apple’s medical costs had raised $4,389 of its $8,000 goal as of Friday evening.

“As a small nonprofit agency, this surgery and the multitude of testing has been a large monetary burden for the Child Advocacy Center of McHenry County,” Apple’s owner and Child Advocacy Center operations manager Anna Krause wrote on the fundraiser page. “However, we also see firsthand the amazing work that Apple does every day here at the CAC. She is our most popular staff member and has a huge fan following.”

The specially trained comfort dog underwent surgery Thursday to remove the mass and is recovering at home with her owner, said Misty Marinier, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center.

“When Anna picked her up, Apple couldn’t wait to crawl into her lap and go home,” Marinier said. “It’s about a two-week process where she can’t have any stuffed animals, and that’s going to be so hard for her.”

The Child Advocacy Center is a nonprofit that helps conduct forensic interviews on children younger than 18, Marinier said. Children being interviewed at the Woodstock advocacy center might be victims of sexual or physical abuse or witnesses to other violent crimes, she said.

The Child Advocacy Center works to limit the stress of reliving a traumatic event by facilitating one interview, where police, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services workers and any other investigators are all in one place.

“Studies have shown that kids are more apt to disclose with a comfort dog there,” Marinier said.

In 2018, the nonprofit adopted Apple, named after the technology company, from the Missouri-based company Duo Dog. She was bought with funding from the Rotary Club of Lake in the Hills and the McHenry County Police Chiefs Association.

Before she arrived at the Child Advocacy Center, Apple spent her early life being raised at a jail and later entered a foster home where she was trained, Marinier said.

Throughout the past two years, Apple’s presence during forensic interviews has helped bolster investigations by encouraging children to open up to interviewers.

“She’s very intuitive to people’s moods and comforts and everything else. It’s so relaxing to these children and comforting,” Marinier said. “Oftentimes she falls asleep, and you can hear her snoring in these interviews.”

Apple’s surgery means she’ll be on “medical leave” for the next few weeks as she recuperates and waits for the all-clear from her veterinarian.

“I am just so thankful for the community and the outreach and the [outpouring] that we already have received,” Marinier said. “We are already halfway to our goal, and it’s overwhelming. I couldn’t be happier.”

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