This was originally published on Liberal America on June 15, 2016.
Many organizations offer comfort dogs to people who experienced trauma. Those of us who own or like dogs know that petting one can be very comforting. I had an experience with comfort dogs myself when my college experienced a similar tragedy.
In 2010, Dr. Amy Bishop, a former University of Alabama in Huntsville biologyprofessor, opened fire during a staff meeting.
Three people were killed, and three more were injured. A local organization, Therapy Dogs, brought some sweet dogs to campus to help comfort the entire university. I petted several of them myself.
A survivor of the UAH shooting, Dr. Debrah Moriarity, talked about her experiences after Sunday’s Orlando shooting triggered her memory. Dr. Moriarity fought Dr. Bishop, and almost lost her own life.
In the wake of the Orlando shooting, The Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) of Chicago sent a fleet of 12 comfort dogs to help the people of the affected community. The organization set up at Orlando’s Trinity Lutheran church when the dogs arrived on Monday.
The president of the LCC said this about the dogs:
“They help people relax and calm down … Your blood pressure goes down when you pet a dog, you feel more comfortable, and people end up talking … They’re good listeners, they’re non-judgmental,[sic] they’re confidential.”
The program started in 2008 with just four dogs, and it now has 100 dogs in 23 states.
The team in Orlando includes 19 people and 12 Golden Retrievers. They will also be working in local hospitals with the victims and the first-responders. They will stay at least a week. Maybe longer, depending on the community’s needs.
Comfort dogs are usually sent to places that have experienced shootings, or some other terror attacks. Regularly, they work in hospitals, nursing homes, and other places.
The team sent to Orlando is probably the biggest team to date. The dogs attended the vigil for the victims on Tuesday.
As it is completely donation funded, you can donate to the Chicago organization if you would like to help out in that way; please give if you can.