LAYTON — The sculptor who will create the War Dog Memorial Statue in Layton is a Russian immigrant with dozens of monuments to her credit around the world, including the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial at the state Capitol.
Lena Toritch’s portfolio of hero dog sculptures drew the attention of Linda and Jim Crismer of Fruit Heights, who are raising funds for the bronze statue to be placed next to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Layton Commons Park.
“It’s such a great project,” Toritch said in an interview. “I feel honored to be a part of this prestigious project honoring our brave K9 heroes.”
Toritch said she specializes in memorials for military and law enforcement personnel and military and police dogs.
She’s happy, too, with the model for the Layton sculpture — Mazzie, the Crismers’ former military contractor German shepherd who saw duty in Kuwait.
“And Jim and Linda, I am amazed how dedicated they are to saving military dogs and promoting that,” Toritch said. “I’m really grateful that they found me and chose me to do this.”
Toritch said she graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Russia. For the past 20 years she has been working out of Young Fine Art Studio with her business partner, sculptor Richard Young.
Her portfolio includes memorials depicting a Special Operations K9; Chips, a decorated military dog of World War II; golden retriever Bretagne, a famed search dog at the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack site in New York; and Nash, a K9 for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
She said her most important project locally is the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial at the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City. The group of three monuments honor Utah police of the past, present and future, she said.
Layton Recreation Director David Price said the city is glad the Crismers picked Toritch.
“She does a beautiful job,” Price said. “We are thrilled that we will have a piece of her work in our park.”