These last few weeks have been tragic, to say the least. And now the entire city of Dallas has been grieving after last Thursday’s attack. Five Dallas Police officers were killed and seven others were injured after an ambush during a protest against the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.
Luckily, the victims in Dallas have support. They have the entire country’s support. And now they have some dogs to pet and lean on too. A team of therapy dogs has gone to Dallas to help those in need after the tragic attack. Six Golden Retrievers – Luther, Ruthie, Katie, Rufus, Pax and Phoebe – have come prepared with their handlers and “Please pet me” vests.
The dogs are a part of the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 therapy dog team and are based in Northbrook, Ill. But they come from all over: Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Illinois.
Tim Hetzner, President of the Lutheran Church Charities explained that these dogs “bring mercy and compassion during crisis.”
“When [people] pet a dog, it lowers their heart rate and they relax. And when they relax, they are able to start to process what they are feeling. An important part of the healing process is to be able to talk about it, and dogs are great listeners. They are confidential … they aren’t judgmental, and they are there to love on people.”
A local mission church and the Dallas Police Department asked the therapy dog team to come and help out following the attack. They’ll meet with the Dallas Police Department and their families and community members. Hetzner explained that the therapy dogs would go to some of the memorials. They also went to a candlelight vigil at City Hall. And they’ll stay in Dallas as long as they’re needed.
Just petting a dog can bring so much comfort in times of tragedy. And this is far from the first time the K-9 therapy team has gone to help those in need. The group was created after Hurricane Katrina. Since then, dogs have been sent out where they’re needed most to provide licks, cuddles, hugs and more. They’ve gone to Sandy Hook, Boston after the bombing in 2013, and most recently, Orlando.
“It’s the most effective compassion tool to help people in times of crisis,” Hetzner said. “Dogs have a sixth sense when someone is hurting. They just know.”
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