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Therapy dogs support the community following Nashville school shooting

These dogs are trained to interact with people of all ages and circumstances who are suffering and in need. 

Therapy dogs support the community following Nashville school shooting
Cover Image Source: Facebook/ LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs

Trigger warning: This article contains themes of gun violence that some readers may find distressing

Three adults and kids were killed in a school shooting at the Covenant school in Nashville. A day after that, a group of golden retrievers was brought to the memorial outside the school to help comfort people who were going through a tough time. The community of students and parents honored the six lives that were lost in the shooting and the dogs were there to support them, as reported by GoodMorningAmerica. Students and parents could be seen hugging the dogs at the memorial. The dogs were from a non-profit organization called LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs. The charity has dogs that are trained to interact with people of all ages and circumstances who are suffering and in need. 


According to the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, therapy animals offer some benefit to a person in healing from or in the improvement of mental or physical disorders. "Research has shown that the presence of a beloved pet or therapy animal can help a person control daily anxiety, regulate emotional arousal, and improve mood. Since therapy dogs are trained to be attentive to a person’s needs and offer unconditional love, they can often stabilize intense emotions," states the website. The shooter was identified as Audrey Hale, a 28-year-old, former student from the school. He reportedly left home with a red bag on Monday morning and used three weapons to attack the school, as reported by CNN.  



The preliminary investigation has shown that the shooting was targeted. However, the probe has not shown that any of the victims were targeted individually, according to the authorities. "We have no evidence that individuals were specifically targeted," said Don Aaron, the media relations director at the Nashville Police Department. "This school, this church building was a target of the shooter, but we have no information at present to indicate that the shooter was specifically targeting any one of the six individuals who were murdered," according to CBS News. Moreover, the detectives found that there is some resentment "for having to go to that school." The victims of the shooting were 9-year-old Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, 61-year-old Cynthia Peak, 60-year-old Katherine Koonce, and 61-year-old Mike Hill. 


Last month, mothers of the Michigan State University students lined up outside holding signs offering free hugs for the students as they returned to campus after the shooting that happened on February 13. When kids saw the signs with 'free hugs,' they became emotional and started crying. They're filled with gratitude, said Heather Sertic of Traverse City, Michigan. "What we heard most was, 'Thank you for caring about me. Thank you for making us feel safe.'" Sertic graduated from Michigan State University in 1999. On the day of the incident, she was on a call with her daughter, who is a Michigan State junior. They both had received text messages and alerts about an active shooter on campus. Meanwhile also checking in on her nephew, who is a freshman at the university. 


Three days before the classes were about to resume, Sertic posted a message on a Facebook group of Michigan State parents from across the country. "I really felt strongly about doing something for all of the students because I knew there had to be others who felt very much the same as my daughter," Sertic said. Within hours, parents were ready to help in person. They were reaching out to businesses to donate to the cause. By Monday, Sertic said they had raised over $30,000 in cash donations and product donations like food, gift cards and toiletries for students. The group does not only include parents of Michigan State students but also students' grandparents, siblings and university alumni. She said that the initiative helped the parents also. Sertic received text messages, phone calls and thank you cards from students' family members. "I think it's starting some of the healing processes for us all."


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