As the country reels from the latest mass shooting, a group of dogs is heading to Lewiston, Maine, to lend their paws and promote healing.
Dogs en route to offer comfort following Lewiston mass shooting
On Oct. 25, a man shot and killed 18 people, and wounded 13 others, in a mass shooting that took place in a bowling alley and a bar in Lewiston. The authorities are currently searching for the suspected shooter, Robert Card.
The tragedy shook the community of Lewiston and beyond. That’s why a group of dogs is making their way to the East Coast to help comfort those suffering in the aftermath of the violence.
According to WCVB, 3-year-old Zodiac is one of five pups that will help provide emotional support to those impacted by the shooting. Zodiac traveled from Cleveland to Logan International Airport in Boston. He is a member of Crisis Response Canines, a non-profit offering emotional support following devastating events.
The dogs will begin by offering comfort to first responders. Then, they’ll attend vigils and community events. The canine companions will help people cope until the pups return home on Wednesday.
The healing power of dogs
“It’s the dogs. They have the powers,” Zodiac’s handler, Shirley Graziano, told the news outlet. “It just makes it a moment in their life that they, just, it’s that one moment of happiness and joy instead of everything just being so heavy and sad and hard.”
Graziano recalled the impact of having a pup on site in the wake of the 2022 Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas. There, Zodiac and Graziano befriended a grieving woman.
“She said, ‘I don’t speak any English,’ and I said, ‘I don’t speak any Spanish.’ And the next thing you know, she’s crying on his head, hugging me, crying in my arms, and we couldn’t even speak each other’s language,” Graziano said.
In addition to being downright adorable, Zodiac has a purple tail. Graziano said it helps people who are “in a really bad place…think of something else that was happier.”