Therapy Dogs Welcome Staff and Students Back After Parkland Shooting

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
The survivors of the horrific massacre at a Florida high school returned back to class, and a loving group of furry friends was waiting to welcome them back.

The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida has left many feeling helpless and concerned about how we’re going to keep our children safe in schools.

The students and families themselves obviously most concerned, and this week, the survivors went back to the campus where their lives were forever changed.

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Waiting for them was a group of therapy dogs, who participated in classes with the students and gave them unconditional love and support. The Humane Society of Broward County posted pictures of the pups and their new human friends, and said it was an honor for them and the dogs to be part of the incredible healing process.

Today our therapy dogs welcomed the students back to school. They participated in classes all day, made lots of new friends and provided unconditional love and comfort. It’s an honor to be part of the comfort and healing process at MSD with their amazing students, principal and faculty.

A post shared by Animal Assisted Therapy – HSBC (@aathsbroward) on Feb 28, 2018 at 2:08pm PST

Teachers and students also tweeted, sharing their gratitude for the dogs being present and helping to take their minds off the horrific tragedy of the shooting. The Humane Society says that the dogs work with handlers to give love and affection and comfort to people, in places like libraries or schools or hospitals and nursing homes.

My first period class with our borrowed therapy dog, Woody.

— Sarah Lerner, CJE (@mrs_lerner) February 28, 2018

MSD student Megan playing “Here Comes the Sun” with the comfort of therapy dog Karma by her side.

A post shared by Animal Assisted Therapy – HSBC (@aathsbroward) on Mar 1, 2018 at 2:13pm PST

Marni Bellavia is the manager of the Animal Assisted Therapy Program at the Humane Society and says that the dogs bring relief to the students when their hearts are so heavy and broken. They are thankful they can be part of the healing process for the students and to bring love and affection to them in this hard time.

Supporting the students on their second day back to school.

A post shared by Animal Assisted Therapy – HSBC (@aathsbroward) on Mar 1, 2018 at 4:31am PST

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Dr. Rosalind Osgood is a school board member and she is thrilled the dogs are there and are helping. She believes that they will be on campus for the students for quite a while, as parents are concerned this effort is just for today and will the trauma the children faced will soon be forgotten. Dr. Osgood says that’s not the case, though, as they are focusing on what the students need, and will continue to do so for as long as they need to.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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