Homewood police are investigating the possibly vandalization of several pet statues that were part of Homewood’s Pets on Parade public art project, a benefit for the South Suburban Humane Society.
That’s the only piece remaining of Royko the dog, the Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle’s entry in the Pets on Parade artistic installation following vandalism in downtown Homewood this week.
After the vandalism was discovered, the rest of the Chronicle’s dog was removed from its position on Martin Avenue, just south of Ridge Road.
At least two other faux canines were damaged — the H-F Homes sculpture and a giraffe-dog made by the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District. The village said in a statement that it is investigating the vandalism.
“The department is currently looking into the matter of a few of the dogs being vandalized,” said Homewood Police Chief Bill Alcott. “The statues are in an area that is monitored by security cameras and we will review the situation. It is unfortunate someone has tarnished this public art initiative.”
Alcott asked anyone with information about the vandalism to contact Homewood police at 708-206-3420.
More than 30 dog and cat statues were decorated by area businesses and organizations for Pets on Parade as a fundraising project for the South Suburban Humane Society (SSHS). The artwork was first presented at the Homewood Art and Garden Street Fair on June 9 and 10. After that, they were put on display in the village’s downtown business district, anchored to sidewalk tree rings.
On June 18, Patty Houlihan, the Chronicle’s public outreach manager, notified the village about several concerns with the installation of the artwork. These included visibility of the statues, no explanation about the display or fundraiser and safety concerns – some of the statues, including the park district’s giraffe, were only attached by one wire and could be easily knocked over.
She also pointed out that participants in Pets on Parade had invested hundreds of dollars and numerous hours in creating the artwork.
Zach Thomas, the former Homewood marketing and events director, responded the next day and said those concerns “touch upon issues that we are currently working through at the moment.”
Thomas, who has since left the village for a job in Alabama, said “we are in the process of relocating several of the statues to be more visible or in a better location. This is our first time working through this process, so we are learning quite a bit as we go.”
There have been no changes to the Pets on Parade installation since then. But less than a month later, the artwork on Martin Avenue was vandalized.
The H-F Chronicle was not notified by the village about the damage to its Pets on Parade entry, nor was it told of the current whereabouts of the sculpture.
The three damaged statues were located near Civilitea Gardens, 2025 Ridge Road.
Owner Terre Robertson was one of the first to spot the vandalism. She said it was possible that the location of the dogs in proximity to the street curb may have been responsible for some of the damage but thought a late-night patron of one of the nearby bars was more likely responsible.
“I thought they’re wonderful and so many people loved them, especially the children,” Robertson said. “It’s not a stretch to think dumb drunks find this funny. Most of the kids in Homewood are good kids.”
Robertson said Pets on Parade was a good idea and thinks the village should encourage more programs in the same vein.
SSHS CEO Emily Klehm said she first found out about the damage when she saw a Facebook post.
“I was immediately very sad because I truly did not believe that there would be a vandalism issue in Homewood,” Klehm said. “There are only (three) out of 30 that were vandalized so if we are able to continue the project in some way with the silent auction at Fall Fest (Sept. 16), I am hopeful that we will still meet the $5,000 fundraising goal.”
Homewood officials responded Thursday following inquiries by the Chronicle.
“The village is pleased to be working with SSHS on their fundraising efforts,” Mary Jane Maharry of Brava Public Relations said on behalf of Homewood. “Unfortunately, damage does happen to public works of art and we are extremely saddened by the vandalism.”
“We have received an overwhelmingly positive response from the Pets on Parade,” Mayor Richard Hofeld said in the village’s statement. “People enjoy having the downtown area enlivened with the whimsical public art display and I’ve seen kids and parents alike taking selfies with the statues. It’s a shame that a few were vandalized and we are looking into the matter. Appropriate action will be taken for anyone who damages the art installation.”