Comfort dogs being deployed to Texas to offer support to people impacted by school shooting

Business Insider US

Eight comfort dogs have been deployed to Uvalde, Texas, to provide support to the community there.
  • At least 19 children and two adults are dead following a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
  • Eight comfort dogs have been deployed to Uvalde to provide support for those affected by the shooting.
  • Studies have shown that dogs are able to affect human emotions, moods, and stress levels.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

Eight comfort dogs have been deployed to Uvalde, Texas, to offer support to anyone affected by Tuesday's mass shooting at the Robb Elementary School.

The dogs, all golden retrievers, are part of the K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry, a program run by Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) to provide support to people impacted by disasters. In a Facebook post, the dog group said that its canines named Cubby, Devorah, Miriam, Elijah, Abner, Gabriel, Joy and Triton were sent from their respective homes across Texas and Colorado and were due to arrive in Uvalde on Wednesday. 

The dogs will be there "to be with the families, survivors, and all of the first responders who serve them," the post read.

Besides attending a mass vigil at the fairgrounds in Uvalde on Wednesday night, the animals will be stationed at the local civic centre till at least Monday, per Good Morning America. The civic center currently serves as a reunification site for families impacted by the shooting. 

"From there, we hope to connect with first responders, the school staff, families, any churches that request the dogs," the LCC K-9 crisis response coordinator Bonnie Fear told the outlet.

"We just see a lot of shock, crying, [people who are] distraught, especially coming in the day after a mass shooting," she continued, per the outlet. "People are not ready to process or listen or answer questions. So we just show up with the dogs."

"We listen if they talk," she said, per Good Morning America. "We're silent. We let the dogs connect with people and they can express their feelings at that time and we're not counselors, so we are just present, standing with them in their sorrow."

According to its website, the LCC K-9 comfort dogs are "working animals, trained to interact with people of all ages and circumstances who are suffering and in need."

In the past, the group's 130 dogs have responded to other tragedies, such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 and Hurricane Sandy that same year, the website noted. 

Numerous studies have shown that dogs are special in their ability to affect human emotions, moods, and stress levels. Petting dogs, for example, can help lower people's heart rates, as well as reduce stress and anxiety.

"Dogs have an incredible bond with people," Dr. Brian Hare, professor of cognitive neuroscience at Duke University, told Insider in a 2016 article.

"Just by making eye contact with dogs, we have an increase in oxytocin. This makes dogs incredibly valuable for people under any kind of stress, or recovering from trauma."

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