About Us

"Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, and filling the emptiness we didn't ever know we had." ~ Thom Jones

WHO WE ARE

Patrick Roemer lived with depression and anxiety throughout most of his young life and this disease took him from his loved ones just months before he would have graduated from Lake Forest High School in May, 2020. The Roemer family founded Paws for Patrick in his memory to connect young people with Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) and Therapy Dogs to aid them as they live with mental illness.

Patrick brought joy to so many people during his short life. His family will always cherish memories of his infectious laugh, heart-warming smile, analytical conversation, authentic creativity, discipline for physical fitness, and especially his love of animals, particularly dogs.

His friends remember him for his sharp and often irreverent wit, his patient and compassionate listening, his loyalty, and fearless competitive nature as witnessed in his participation in wrestling, football, rugby, and obstacle course races.

Patrick had a very special connection with his animals, particularly his beloved dog, Cici. No matter what was going on in his life, he would find peace, comfort and light when he was with her.

The therapeutic benefits of animals are real: they are proven to reduce feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness; increase self-esteem; create a routine; and provide a sense of safety and comfort, among others. For a young person living with mental illness, having the love of an animal by one’s side can make all the difference.

The work Paws for Patrick is doing can never bring Patrick back, and the pain of his loss will never go away, but his memory and his legacy still live on in the most profound way.

WHAT WE DO

Our ESA Program

Paws for Patrick is dedicated to connecting young people (ages 26 and under) with Emotional Support Animals (ESA’s) and Therapy Dogs to aid them as they live with mental illness.

Paws for Patrick uses a unique Wish Granter program to help alleviate the burden of individuals seeking to acquire an Emotional Support Animal to aid them with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health diagnoses. ESA’s are trained in basic obedience; they are not trained for public access or any travel training protocol. ESA’s are not Service Animals under the Department of Justice (DOJ) guidelines and are not automatically granted access to establishments like stores, restaurants, or malls. ESA’s are protected under the Federal Housing Act; however, a landlord may ask the owner to provide documentation from a licensed physician or mental health professional stating that the animal is an essential part of treatment for a disability. Paws for Patrick provides such letters.

If you are interested in making an existing pet an ESA, or securing a new pet to serve as an ESA, Paws for Patrick wants to help you. Whether it be obtaining an ESA certification letter; finding a new companion animal and paying for adoptions fees; securing and paying for a trainer for basic obedience training; each client is handled on a case-by-case basis with their individual Wish Granter. Paws for Patrick is committed to helping you from beginning to end.

Paws for Patrick serves individuals seeking an ESA nationwide.

Our Therapy Dog Program

Paws for Patrick has a team of licensed and insured Therapy Dogs – and their handlers – serving the greater Cook and Lake Counties of Illinois who make individual, weekly, and monthly visits to homes, schools, therapy sessions, youth organizations, and community events, among others.

All of our dogs are certified with Alliance of Therapy Dogs. All dogs are over the age of one, and we range in breed sizes from a chihuahua to Great Danes. The common thread that sets our dogs apart is their innate love for humans, and their superpower of making our participants’ days just a little brighter. We have a partnership with Lakeshore K-9 who provide refresher courses for our teams.

We visit Plena Mind Center, Plena Dragonfly Program, District 219 Transition Services, Niles Central High School, Keshet programming at Salomon Schechter and Ida Crown Schools, and Compass on a regular basis. We visit many local junior high schools, high schools and colleges during times of high stress or during their mental health awareness units. We also attend community events such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Talk Away The Dark walk at Montrose Harbor in the fall.

The Paws for Patrick Therapy Dog teams work within the greater Cook and Lake Counties of Illinois.

Community Outreach

Paws for Patrick seeks to raise awareness of the growing mental health crisis across our nation and break the stigma that still persists.

  • In 2021, more than 4 in 10 (42%) students felt persistently sad or hopeless and nearly one-third (29%) experienced poor mental health.
  • In 2021, more than 1 in 5 (22%) students seriously considered attempting suicide and 1 in 10 (10%) attempted suicide.

We believe in animal power – the unbreakable bond between people and their pets. We believe in the positive emotional health impact animals can have on an individual. And, we believe it is imperative we raise awareness to the rising and alarming rate of young people struggling with mental health. We do this by organizing community awareness initiatives; building alliances and partnerships with people and organizations seeking similar goals; talking about it, sharing our experiences and by never, ever forgetting.

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