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El Paso first responders bring therapy dogs to hospital

First responders with therapy dogs in el paso
© Methodist Healthcare System – Facebook

Following Sunday’s mass shooting in El Paso, TX, two dogs were flown in to help the families of victims. Rudy and Chanel are facility dogs, specially trained to assist grieving and distressed human beings affected by trauma.

By Nick Whittle, 7 Aug 2019

On Sunday, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius opened fire upon a packed Wallmart supermarket in El Paso. By the time he surrendered he had shot and killed 22 people.

Families have since rushed to the Del Sol Medical Center for news of loved ones caught up in the massacre. Those most unlucky were offered bereavement support; for families of others who were injured by the gunman, care is ongoing.

Into action!

Retrievers Rudy and Chanel were flown to El Paso shortly after news reached San Antonio. The city’s hospital is one of a handful of care centres that utilises therapy dogs in the care of its patients. Therapy Animals of San Antonio is a non-profit organisation.

The dogs were flown to El Paso by Southwest Airlines in order to help the worst affected victims. First responders travelled with the dogs and also assisted in treating the wounded.

In a message on Facebook, Methodist Healthcare, Texas’ largest healthcare provider wrote: “Chanel and Rudy our facility dogs made it to El Paso this morning. They are already providing their unconditional love and support to first responders helping them cope through this traumatic time. Thanks to Southwest Airlines safely and swiftly getting them down there. We will continue to send prayers to El Paso as well as to Dayton OH.”

Therapy dogs

Dogs are well known for their ability to ease grief and to comfort those most at need. However, therapy dogs in the UK are not considered to be assistance dogs and do not have the same rights of access. An assistance dog is trained specifically to aid a disabled person. The dog is usually certified by one of the charitable organisations registered with Assistance Dogs UK.