Therapy dogs deployed to Parkland Shooting survivors

In the wake of the deadly shooting in Parkland, Florida, volunteers for Lutheran Church Charities deployed comfort dogs to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, according to USA Today.

Nineteen LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs (all golden retrievers) and 37 handlers greeted students this past Thursday at the request of school counselors and administrators. The trained therapy dogs were brought in to provide some relief to survivors of the shooting.

One handler and volunteer, Mike Flaherty, introduced students to his golden retriever, Jacob.

“We found that kids do better petting a dog than they do talking to a counselor,” Flaherty told USA Today. “It calms people down.”

The dogs are all too familiar with shootings and other tragedies. Jacob and his canine companions aided victims of the Las Vegas shooting that took 58 lives this past October. The dogs also made an appearance at the first anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2015.

Tim Hetzner, president of the LCC, oversaw the dogs’ trip to Las Vegas.

“A key part of healing in any crisis or disaster is to be able to talk about [the trauma], and people find it easier to do that with dogs” Hetzner told The Today Show.

On campus, the group Pet Partners offers canine therapy during midterms and finals. The organization deploys emotional support animals to Fondren Library and other popular study spots on campus to comfort stressed students. Research shows that these comfort dogs have the ability to lower anxiety and blood pressure according to Time.

Although many give their thoughts and prayers during troubled times, these canines take action and provide a real opportunity for victims to heal. These dogs support people in need and put people at ease with the wag of a tail.

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