Ten dogs are helping Uvalde’s children return to school with smiles after the May shooting

Returning to class for the students of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas was not easy. Last May this school was the scene of a real massacre: nineteen students and two teachers were killed and another seventeen people injured.

Since then the institute had closed, and the first bell was inevitably accompanied by fears and anxieties: some students did not want to get out of the car, others were crying. But 10 Golden Retrievers from all over the country were there to greet them, helping them relieve bad memories and provide them with a distraction and bring a little smile to their faces.

The shooting left the young students, as well as their families, in shock. This is why the institute has involved the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry to make entry into the classroom softer and more carefree, thanks to the pampering of comfort dogs.

The initiative will last three weeks for the moment: it is already starting to bear fruit and “will continue to change as the children return to their routine. Our goal is to be present with all those who are suffering and in need, simply by being with them, ”explains project coordinator Bonnie Fear.

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The support dog initiative had already been successfully trialled in Newtown, Connecticut after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. The Lutheran Church Charities group had already intervened in Orlando, Florida to provide comfort afterwards. the Pulse shooting and in Parkland, Florida, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the scene of another school massacre in 2018.

“We introduce ourselves and let the dogs do their job,” explains Fear. “A growing number of studies suggest that spending time with a therapy dog ​​can help reduce the pain experience in a hospital patient while interacting with students reduces anxiety and improves mood.”

Of course, most experts point out that the benefit provided by a companion animal must be complementary to medical or psychological therapy. But “for those who have suffered trauma, dogs and animals in general can help facilitate the healing process,” adds therapist Angela Whittinghill. “The return to school after a tragedy like the one experienced in Uvalde, Texas must be an extremely anxious event for children and staff. Putting therapy dogs at their disposal is one of the best ways to help them heal, much better than psychological therapy alone. “

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Ten dogs are helping Uvalde’s children return to school with smiles after the May shooting