Dogs comfort Texas community after school shooting

·3-min read

Therapy dogs have been deployed in Uvalde, Texas, following last week's school shooting, hoping to help the community heal.

Last week, 19 school children and two teachers were murdered at Robb Elementary School by a lone gunman.

In response to the tragedy, Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry and Hearts of Mercy & Compassion, Crosses for Losses (HMC) Ministry have already sent eight dogs to Uvalde.

Comfort Dogs have been deployed in Uvalde following last week's mass shooting at Robb Elementary School. Source: Lutheran Church Charities
Comfort Dogs have been deployed in Uvalde following last week's mass shooting at Robb Elementary School. Source: Lutheran Church Charities

The second team of dogs and their handlers is on the way and are expected to reach Uvalde on Tuesday (local time).

The first group of dogs came from all over Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma and have already left to get some rest, but five more dogs will be ready to serve on Tuesday (local time).

The dogs are there to comfort the survivors, first responders and family and friends of the victims in Uvalde. Source: Lutheran Church Charities
The dogs are there to comfort the survivors, first responders and family and friends of the victims in Uvalde. Source: Lutheran Church Charities

While nothing is likely to completely comfort the grieving families, classmates and members of the community, the dogs are there to offer support to those who need it.

"You could tell a lot of the kids weren't ready to talk yet," Bonnie Fear, LCC K-9 Crisis Response Coordinator said in a statement to Yahoo News Australia.

"They would walk up to a dog pretty sad and confused. But by the time they were done with that dog, they were hugging and smiling and even talking to the dog."

The dogs will hopefully help the Uvalde community process the trauma following the shooting. Source: Lutheran Church Charities
The dogs will hopefully help the Uvalde community process the trauma following the shooting. Source: Lutheran Church Charities

Ms Fear added a lot of times following a tragedy, people don't want to talk, but they can find comfort in a Comfort Dog.

"They can talk to a Comfort Dog without being judged, and it's pretty much that simple," she said.

"That’s why we’re here, to help people express their feelings. We listen if they want to talk and we’re silent if they just want to pet the dogs.”

Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry has been to several states following mass shootings over the years. Source: Lutheran Church Charities
Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry has been to several states following mass shootings over the years. Source: Lutheran Church Charities

The LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry launched in 2008 and works all around the US and embraces the "unique, calming nature and skills of purebred Golden Retrievers".

There are about 130 golden retrievers in the LCC K-9 Ministry, all are specifically trained to serve people who have experienced natural or human-caused trauma, like natural disasters or mass shootings.

“LCC’s K-9 Ministry has expanded from four dogs in 2008 to more than 130 dogs in 27 states," LCC President and CEO Tim Hetzner said in a statement.

"We have received a marked increase in comfort dog requests in the last two years.”

The first deployment of Comfort Dogs came from several different states. Source: Lutheran Church Charities
The first deployment of Comfort Dogs came from several different states. Source: Lutheran Church Charities
A second deployment will be in Uvalde on Tuesday. Source: Lutheran Church Charities
A second deployment will be in Uvalde on Tuesday. Source: Lutheran Church Charities

Sadly, this isn't the first time LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs have been called to serve after a mass shooting.

The dogs were onsite in Connecticut after the Sandy Hook shooting, Florida after the Pulse Nightclub shooting and many more.

"The absolute trauma of mass shootings has become all too common in recent years," the spokesperson said in a statement.

An LCC spokesperson confirmed to Yahoo News Australia the organisation was invited to go to Uvalde by Trinity Lutheran Church in Uvalde, in the wake of the shooting.

The Robb Elementary School shooting is among the deadliest in US history and the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook in 2012.

It should have been the first day of a joyous week for Robb Elementary School students — the start of summer break.

Instead on Monday, the first two of 19 children slain inside a classroom were being remembered at funerals.

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