The world continues to grieve for the 21 lives lost in the horrific mass shooting at an Robb Elementary School. That grief is most strongly felt in Uvalde, Texas, where a community, including friends and family of the victims, has been left in shock and heartbreak.
Now, in the wake of the shooting, one group has brought a team of dogs to Uvalde to bring some much-needed comfort to the community.
The golden retrievers are part of the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry, and they’re all specially trained to provide support to people affected by horrific events like this.
The eight dogs arrived in the Uvalde town square on May 26, two days after the shooting. According to a post from the organization, the LCC hand wrote the names of each victim on a crosses, along with bible verses.
The dogs were on hand to “offer comfort to the community as they searched for the names of their loved ones.”
“We listened to stories, prayed and cried together,” the organization wrote.
The dogs are no stranger to this kind of work: some of the dogs have responded to “all the mass shootings and crises,” K-9 crisis response coordinator Bonnie Fear told Good Morning America.
“We just see a lot of shock, crying, [people who are] distraught, especially coming in the day after a mass shooting,” she said. “People are not ready to process or listen or answer questions. So we just show up with the dogs.”
The companionship of a dog can be very therapeutic for people. People with anxiety or other disorders sometimes rely on their own comfort dogs, and emergency responders sometimes have comfort dogs on staff to help traumatized victims. Comfort dogs have been utilized in the wake of all kinds of disasters.
While this shooting was horrific and not something anyone will get over soon, the golden retrievers can provide a little bit of respite from their grief.
“We listen if they talk. We’re silent,” Bonnie told GMA. “We let the dogs connect with people and they can express their feelings at that time and we’re not counselors, so we are just present, standing with them in their sorrow.”
Bonnie told GMA that the dogs would be made available to all the victims of the shooting, and said they would attend a mass vigil and the civic center where school staff and families were gathering.
“We hope to connect with first responders, the school staff, families, any churches that request the dogs,” she said.
Thank you to these incredible dogs and their handlers for always being there for the victims of tragedies. We know that the people of Uvalde could use these dogs’ love and comfort right now.
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