When the Surfside condo collapsed near Miami in June 2021, therapy dogs were quick to comfort those affected. But now, about a month after a horrific event, many are still trying to heal. In fact, for some, the pain has only gotten worse as time goes on.
So, dogs are needed for comfort once again. Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) K-9 Comfort Ministry brought a group of nine Golden Retrievers to the scene. The first responders and residents of the Champlain Towers South condo found joy in their furry paws and loving eyes. These dogs brought peace amid many dark days.
Dogs Bring Joy
Many people have endured a lot of pain related to the condo collapse in the past month. The standing portion of the tower was demolished, leaving pet parents to fear the worst. Also, at least 62 individuals still aren’t accounted for. First responders have even been working long, exhausting shifts to search for survivors.
So, LCC K-9 crisis response coordinator Bonnie Fear believes that these individuals could use a little positivity. The organization deployed Golden Retrievers from Florida, Georgia, Illinois, South Carolina, and Tennessee for this job. Each pup wore a blue vest that said, “Please Pet Me.”
“They are highly trained working dogs that remain calm in any situation and they are here for people to pet,” said Fear.
During their time in Surfside, the dogs visited a makeshift memorial set up near the collapsed tower every day. The canines also stopped by an assistance center, which the Red Cross and a local Publix helped set up.
Fear noticed that people gravitated toward the dogs right away. They pet them with big smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes. Petting these Golden Retrievers might not fix the bigger problems, but it can bring a bit of positivity to each person.
“They’re just either shocked or pleased that we show up in time of crisis just for the people that are hurting and affected by the crisis,” Fear said.
19 volunteer handlers worked with these dogs to give commands as they interacting with humans. One dog that stood out was Hope from Georgia, who offered support to and received hugs from a teenager. Some volunteers also handed out plush dogs to those who met the Golden Retrievers as a heartwarming reminder.
While the LCC was there with the dogs, they also placed hearts at the memorial site. Visitors were welcome to sign the hearts and leave messages of condolences. Nothing can change the past, but kind actions like this will help make each day a little better for first responders and the individuals affected by the collapse.