Dogs offered Michigan State University students comfort after a gunman killed three people and wounded five on Monday at the college in the United States. He then took his own life.
Comfort dogs are trained therapy dogs that are brought in to provide emotional support to people in the aftermath of traumatic events, including mass shootings.
The most commonly used dogs are often golden retrievers or labrador retrievers. These breeds are known for their friendly, calm, and gentle nature and are well-suited to providing emotional support.
They are trained to be calm and gentle and to provide comfort and affection to people who may be feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or upset.
“We never know coming in what to expect, but we do know what (comfort) we can bring to the students and faculty staff in this situation,” said Nancy Borders, a volunteer comfort dog handler with Lutheran Church Charities, which has trained around 130 dogs to give humans support.
Borders and other people brought four golden retrievers to Michigan as a resource of comfort for anyone impacted by the mass shooting. “For us, it’s very rewarding that they can release that stress with our dogs,” Borders told news agency Reuters.
The dogs know how to remain calm and relaxed in stressful situations and how to interact with people of all ages and backgrounds.
“It’s very sad to me and sad that that so much of this is happening. I don’t understand it, and I don’t know what it’ll take to stop it, but we’re willing to be there whenever needed,” Borders added.
The gunman had a history of mental illness, police said, adding that he was 43 and had no known affiliation to the university or connections to any of his victims.