- Methodist Healthcare System/Facebook
- Trained dogs have been brought in to El Paso to help those dealing with trauma following Saturday’s mass shooting.
- The dogs are being brought in to treat families, first responders, and survivors, according to KSAT.
- Facility dogs Chanel, Lady, and Rudy arrived in El Paso from San Antonio on Sunday.
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Trained dogs have been sent to El Paso, Texas, to help treat first responders after Saturday’s mass shooting, which left 22 dead.
The service was organized by Methodist Healthcare System in San Antonio over the weekend. It didn’t take long for the pups, Chanel, Lady, and Rudy, to board a plane with their handlers and head to El Paso.
The animals, who were trained by Service Dogs, Inc,. arrived on Sunday morning.
“They are already providing their unconditional love and support to first responders helping them cope through this traumatic time,” Methodist Healthcare System wrote on Facebook.
Handler Lee Stanphill told KSAT he wanted to bring the animals to El Paso once he heard about the shooting. On Saturday, 22 people were killed and 24 others were injured after a gunman opened fire in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.
According to KSAT, these dogs are not therapy animals – and their training is highly specialized for experiences like this.
While in El Paso, the dogs will visit hospitals, providing support and comfort to shooting victims. They will also spend time with first responders and at family reunification centers, according to KSAT
In a news release reviewed by ABC 7, Methodist Health Systems stressed the importance of the work these dogs do following traumatic events.
“The rate of suicides by first responders including firefighters, paramedics, and law enforcement, has escalated from one every seven days to one a day,” the news release said. “These dogs can reach places in the heart no human can.”
Stanphill, who is Rudy’s handler, echoed this. From his first-hand experience, he said, the animals are able to provide support to those who need it.
A study from Washington State University found that petting a dog for just ten minutes a day can significantly reduce the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
“You will actually see them head straight for a person that’s displaying the most distress. It’s pretty amazing to watch,” Stanphill told KSAT. “It’s heart-melting to see them interact with the patients and you know they’re making a positive impact.”
Update: This article has been updated to reflect the most recent fatality count after two victims died in the days following the attack.
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