How therapy dogs are lending a paw to help heal Virginia Beach
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Many people in Virginia Beach are dealing with the loss of 12 people in last week's shooting.
It can be hard to talk about, so one organization is providing some floppy-eared listeners who are ready to lend a helping paw.
In light of Friday's tragedy, people gathered to grieve the loss of loved ones and community members.
Local chaplains and disaster response team members have hung around to provide a shoulder to lean on. However, there are some smaller helpers among them, too.
"The Red Cross called me about 7:30 Friday night and asked me to get dogs at the municipal center at the operations center, they needed them," explained Jean Nohle, a dog trainer.
Dozens of therapy dogs have been working around the clock to lend a paw to those in need.
"During this sad time, it brings warmth and happiness just to be able to look at them and pet them," said Shermia McDuffie, a city employee.
The pups were trained for difficult times just like this.
"We had the opportunity of going to some very, very rigorous training with the fire department and we thought, 'Why are we doing this? We aren't going to need it.' And here we are," said Nohle.
Jacqui Carrington, one of the handlers, said there's one interaction she won't ever forget with a woman who was inside during the shooting.
"She went into very detailed information about watching four of her associates get killed right in front of her, and I told her we have a chaplain over here. She said, 'No, I want to talk to the dog,'" recalled Carrington.
She added that moments like that serve as reminders about how important their work is.
"It was very emotional, it was very hard on me to listen to her. And after she was done, she said, 'Thank you, I feel better.' I just lost it," Carrington went on to say.
The dogs will be on call to help for the next two to three months.