Reporting Steve Grzanich
CHICAGO (CBS) – A group of comfort dogs that traveled from the Chicago suburbs to the tornado disaster in Oklahoma have been helping ease the pain and stress of storm victims and survivors.
The Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs from Addison arrived in Moore last Tuesday and hit the ground running. The specially trained Golden Retrievers began visiting local hospitals and spent time with one 8-year old who was injured when her school was destroyed.
“I love doggies,” said Courtney Brown as one of the dog, Ruthie, snuggled against her. The second grader attended Plaza Towers Elementary School where seven other children died. She suffered a fractured skull.
The comfort dogs have been meeting with children, their parents and even first responders.
“Whether infants or adults, they bring calmness and healing,” said LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Director Richard Martin. He spoke with CBS Affiliate KWTV –TV in Oklahoma City. “You can see it in the way they pet the dogs. There’s a transference of energy and emotion. They’re for them in their time of need. They’re being still and being with them,” Martin said.
From the hospital it was on to a gymnasium to spend time with other children who’ve been displaced by the storm. The dogs have been lying quietly next to the people they meet, just like they always do. Sometimes there’s a conversation and sometimes there’s just petting.
“It really helps in the healing process as far as people, being able to talk about the disaster,” said Martin. “It helps in the healing process, in that it moves it along a little bit quicker.”
The LCC K-9 comfort dogs are expected to stay in Oklahoma as long as they are needed. Dogs from the Chicago area, Indiana, Joplin, Missouri and Cairo, Nebraska have been on the ground in Moore and the surrounding area.