Last weekend, something horrific happened. About 320 people were at gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida on Saturday night when a man suddenly started shooting. Fifty people never made it out of the club alive and at least 50 more were injured. Now, the whole world is mourning the victims of this tragic event. And a bunch of furry friends have been flown to Orlando to support the survivors and the families of the victims. They are professional “comfort” dogs, who are soothing and comforting the people of Orlando.
Just hours after the attack in Orlando, 12 dogs and their owners started preparing for the trip. The dogs are specially trained to help people through crises.
“Everyone down here has been affected by this,” Tim Hetzner from Lutheran Church Charities told The Dodo. “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.”
A church in Orlando invited the dogs, who traveled from seven different states to be there. Several of the dogs have their own Facebook pages, where you can see the good work that they’re doing.
As soon each of the 12 dogs landed at the airport, they met people in need of support. And overall, on their first day in Orlando, the dogs met over 300 people.
“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,” Tim Hetzner said.
The dogs will stay in Orlando for a week, unless their work is not done. But even now, it’s clear that the dogs have already made a difference.
“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,” said Tim.
What a fine work these dogs are doing! All my thoughts are with the victims and their relatives in Orlando. Rest in peace.
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