Families who lost children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CN are undoubtedly going through emotional upheaval beyond imagination. Incomprehensible. Of all the possible horrors – there likely is nothing so awful as losing a child, particularly so unexpectedly. Still, having a pet at home might help to comfort even these grieving families, particularly children.
Any family in the community with a dog may benefit. It doesn’t mean those families won’t grieve, obviously they will.
But we know that dogs (and cats too) do help. They somehow know how to and when to console. There don’t require an ability to speak in order to help, or at least help some – yet somehow they know when we need help.
After 9/11 “comfort dogs” were brought in. These dogs (which unfortunately weren’t all true trained therapy dogs – better if they had been), were instantly sought out by families missing loved ones, and also by emergency responders – who also sought reassuring. Overall, these dogs really did help. These days, colleges even bring in dogs as a stress buster for frazzled students.
Also, comfort dogs from Lutheran Church Charities hit the road with eight Golden Retrievers from the Chicago area to serve residents of Newtown. These trained dogs' job is to stand around town to be petted. So far, they've been working a lot - and smiles happen. It works!
It's not only dogs who may help comfort. Kitten Associates, Inc. a small home foster cat rescue group in Newton, CT is opening their doors to local families (by appointment only) who may want to simply have children pet a kitty, or watch kittens play. Play sessions will last 30 minutes. And each visiting child will receive a plush kitten. (If you live in the area, and are interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org).
On the flip side, we will likely learn there were various warning signs that gunman Adam Lanza was a very troubled individual. Experts suggest there usually are. One red flag among most serial killers or mass murderers is the irrefutable 'Link' between animal abuse and then ultimately violence inflicted on people. In other words, most mass murderers or serial killers do "practice" on animal first. Further investigation will likely reveal that Lanza offered signs he was disturbed, animal abuse may turn out to be one of them. This is why people who abuse animals are not only obviously dangerous to animals, they may also seek to harm people - and therefore a potential danger to the entire community.