The dogs are being called "second responders."
In the wake of the horrible attack that occurred in Las Vegas a little over one week ago, millions of people around the world have done their part to help in any way they can, whether that’s donating blood, donating money online, or even traveling to Las Vegas to take part in the services and performances that have been held there. Following such a tragedy, there is one group that arrived in the city to help that victims and their families are particularly glad to see: therapy dogs.
Therapy dogs and even other animals are usually at the ready for those in the hospital for long periods of time, senior citizens, and even college students in the midst of finals week. They provide a comfort that is unspoken and can’t often be fulfilled by humans by offering their unconditional affection during some tough times. That’s why no one was surprised when over one dozen therapy dogs arrived in Las Vegas within hours after the attack, but the relief they brought to those they visited was palpable.
A group of 17 comfort dogs was brought in during the early morning hours following the attack and they were all from Lutheran Church Charities (LCC). The group is composed of therapy dogs across the country, and those that arrived were from as far away as Nebraska and Illinois.
“Everyone wants to pet the dogs,” Tim Hetzner, LCC president, previously told The Dodo when the dogs arrived in Orlando following that mass shooting. “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.”
Once the dogs arrived, they wasted no time in attending to those in need. They visited the local hospitals, which were filled to the brim with victims recovering from their injuries and families wanting to be by their side. Though most people believe that the victims are the people most in need of the comforts of petting a dog, the medical staff was also a beneficiary that greatly welcomed the relief the dogs provided after days of non-stop patients in critical condition.
The dogs even visited schools so that the children could be met with love and happiness rather than be faced only with the constant barrage of bad news in their own hometown. The canines were also present at the candlelight vigil honoring those who lost their lives during the shooting, standing in solidarity with other victims whose lives were saved.
The impact that these dogs had on the recovery of the victims, their families, and the community at large is immeasurable, and this isn’t the first time these dogs have responded to disasters. They are often called “second responders” as they help in the aftermath, but as a nonprofit they are limited in their ability to send out dogs with their humans because of travel and accommodation expenses. If you would like to donate to their cause, you can do so here.