“We all pray when the news pops up on our phones, on the TV, and in our email inbox, ‘Please God no, not another school shooting,'” the ministry wrote on its Web site. Within hours of the shooting, local pastors had reached out to the ministry about sending some of its specially trained “comfort dogs” to help the Marysville community heal.
The dogs, Aaron, Luther, and Shami, will remain in Marysville for the week, visiting different locations as needed.
Tim Hetzner, president of Lutheran Church Charities, told The Post that the dogs visited a coffee shop in town on Tuesday evening, and were outside the school Tuesday morning. The response to the dogs in the community has been “incredible,” he said.
“People come in so tense,” Hetzner said, “Once they see the dogs, they start relaxing. They get down, they hug the dogs.” The dogs’ handlers are instructed to listen as community members interact with the animals. Often, Hetzner said, people will open up and start talking to the dogs, “an important part of the therapeutic process.”
The ministry’s dogs also traveled to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., after the deadly shooting there in 2012, and helped communities recovering from a devastating tornado in Moore, Okla., and major floods in Boulder, Colo., according to Yahoo.
Here are some photos from the dogs’ visit Monday to Messiah Lutheran Church in Marysville:
The high school remains closed this week in the wake of the shooting. However, Superintendent Becky Berg told the Daily Herald, the cafeteria where the shooting took place will remain permanently closed.
[This post has been updated]