The world is still reeling from the horrific shootings that took place in Orlando this weekend. In times of great tragedy, the smallest things can give those grieving some comfort, from kind words and gestures or even, a cuddle with a dog.
To that end, a special group of dogs, known as ‘comfort dogs’ have been flown into Florida from different US states to offer emotional support to grieving victims and families of the Orlando shooting. The comfort dogs have been deployed to help survivors, first responders and the members of the Orlando community affected by the tragic events on Sunday evening – the worst mass shooting in US history – which left 49 dead and 53 injured.
The dogs have been stationed outside hospitals, police stations, community centres and churches wearing vests that read “Please Pet Me.” Therapy dogs are raised to provide emotional support to those in distress.
“On Sunday, we put a dispatch out to our dogs across the country to see who could come out, and after making flight reservations, here we are. We try to always respond in 24 hours after being invited,” Lutheran Church Charities President Tim Hetzner told The Dodo.
“Everyone down here has been affected by this. Everyone loves petting the dogs. It helps them talk. When you pet a dog, your blood pressure goes down, and you relax. When you relax, there’s a greater chance that you’ll want to talk about what you’ve been through.”
On their first day in Orlando alone, the dogs visited with around 300 people and hopefully helped them begin the process of healing. It was reported that the pooches had intended to stay a week, but they could extend their visit, depending on what’s needed.
— Bianca Castro (@BiancaNBC5) June 14, 2016
“We’re here working with the victims, families and first responders — and the whole community. We’ll also be visiting with the staff at the club where the attack happened. They are taking this very rough. We’re keeping busy.”
— Phoebe Comfort Dog (@LCCK9Phoebe) June 14, 2016
“Everyone wants to pet the dogs. Some people just want to lay on the ground with them and talk. The dogs are like a bridge for people to talk about what’s bothering them. The dogs are confidential; they’re good listeners, and they’re nonjudgmental. And talking about things is one of the most important ways to heal.”
Via The Dodo