A group of Golden Retrievers were sent to Robb Elementary School after a tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. The shooter killed at least 19 children and two teachers after opening fire on Tuesday morning, leaving the community understandably heartbroken. Now eight of the Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) K-9 Ministries dogs have been dispatched to Uvalde with hopes of bringing the community a little comfort.
According to People, the K-9 unit travels across the country to help those impacted by disasters. They arrived in Uvalde less than 24 hours after the school shooting; coming from other counties in Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado. As LCCs' K-9 crisis response coordinator, Bonnie Fear, explained to Good Morning America, the dogs are there to help people process.
“We just see a lot of shock, crying, [people who are] distraught, especially coming in the day after a mass shooting," she told the news outlet. "People are not ready to process or listen or answer questions. So we just show up with the dogs."
Human volunteers are mostly silent during the process, although will of course listen if people need to talk. "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," Fear explained.
Read More From Pethelpful
Fear said the K-9 unit would also attend a mass vigil held at the fairgrounds in Uvalde on Thursday.
"We are also aware and have been directed to the civic center in Uvalde where school staff, teachers, families are gathering, and from there, we hope to connect with first responders, the school staff, families, any churches that request the dogs," she explained.
It isn't an understatement to say that the work these dogs are doing is critical.
"I remember one situation in Sandy Hook, four days after the shooting," Tim Hetzner, LCC president and CEO, recalled to GMA, speaking of the 2012 mass shooting at an elementary school in Newton, Connecticut. "We were at a community center and this couple was there with their young boy. … I had a dog named Howe at that time."
"Howe looked up at the boy, got up, walked over to the boy, rolled into his legs and the boy came down on top of him," Hetzner recalled. "They just laid there. After about 10 minutes, the boy lifted up Howe’s ear and told him everything that happened in that classroom. Parents started crying because it was the first time the boy had talked in four days. First time and it was a dog."
The group told GMA that the dogs will be in Uvalde until Monday, May 30. But don't worry, they'll be given breaks between shifts.