As they did after the Boston Marathon bombing, the Sandy Hook school shootings and the Charleston church massacre, comfort dogs are headed to the scene of an American tragedy — this time, the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s history.
About a dozen dogs from seven states were headed to Orlando yesterday to provide comfort and encouragement to the relatives of the dead, surviving victims, their families, first responders and a stunned community.
Forty-nine people were killed and 53 were injured when what authorities are describing as a “home grown extremist” opened fire inside the crowded Pulse nightclub with a semi-automatic weapon.
Lutheran Church Charities, which began its comfort dog program in 2008, said a dozen dogs and 20 volunteers arrived in Orlando yesterday, where they will work with local hospitals and churches.
“They help people relax and calm down,” Tim Hetzner, president of the LCC Comfort Dogs, told ABC News.
“Your blood pressure goes down when you pet a dog, you feel more comfortable, and people end up talking,” Hetzner said. “They’re good listeners, they’re non-judgmental, they’re confidential.”
The program has more than 100 dogs in 23 states.
Yesterday, many of them, along with handlers and volunteers, sprang into action.
Gracie, a 5-year-old golden retriever in Davenport, Iowa, who was little more than a pup when she went to the Sandy Hook shootings that killed 26 in Newtown, Connecticut, was aboard a flight to Orlando out of Chicago.
“Her purpose is to share love and compassion with those who are suffering,” Jane Marsh-Johnson, one of Gracie’s handlers, told News 10.
“The dogs do more for those suffering than human beings can do.”
Sasha, a 19-month-old golden retriever left Hilton Head Island with her handlers, Brenda and Phil Burden. It was Sasha’s first comfort mission, though the Burdens brought comfort dogs to Oregon last year after a gunman killed nine people at Umpqua Community College.
The Burdens told the Island Packet they will likely visit with the first responders who are dealing with the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in American history.
Other dogs were responding from Illinois, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Nebraska and Texas.
While in Orlando, they will be based in Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown Orlando.
Travel for the dogs and volunteers is funded by donations.
(Photos: At top, a comfort dog at Sandy Hook, by Allison Joyce / New York Daily News; below, Gracie, a comfort dog from Iowa / Lutheran Church Charities)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 14th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, church, comfort dogs, dog, dogs, families, first responders, florida, golden retrievers, gracie, hospital, lutheran church charities, mass shootings, orlando, pets, pulse, sasha, shootings, survivors, victims
A five-year-old boy in California and a two-year-old dog in Florida are being hailed as heroes after both were bitten last week by rattlesnakes — the boy while trying to save his dog, the dog while trying to save his human.
In Santa Barbara, Lennon Knox pushed his dog, Sunshine, out of the way of a rattlesnake in his back yard and was bitten on his right toe.
And in Tampa, a German shepherd named Haus was bitten three times by a rattler while in the back yard with his constant companion, seven-year-old Molly DeLuca.
“The snake went to go bite Lennon’s dog … and Lennon pushed Sunshine out of the way and got bit by the snake instead,” Knox told KEYT.
Amy Knox killed the snake and called 911 when she noticed her son was foaming from the mouth.
At Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital he received 35 vials of antivenom.
“He is doing quit well actually. He required multiple doses of the antivenom which we were able to get….unfortunately he is not out of the woods yet and he still needs chronic monitoring right now so we can make sure that his systems do not worsen as we start to peel away the antivenom medications,” said Angela Hsu, pediatrician at Cottage Hospital.
On Wednesday, in Tampa, Donya DeLuca rushed her German shepherd Haus to a veterinary clinic after the dog encountered a rattlesnake in the back yard.
Molly DeLuca was just a few feet away when Haus (pronounced “Hoss”) lunged at the snake and was bitten three times.
“There’s no doubt he was protecting our family,” Donya DeLuca said. “That’s very true to his temperament.”
In addition to receiving antivenom, vets are montoring Haus for possible kidney damage.
DeLuca said the excess donations will go to an animal rescue charity.
(Photos: At top, Haus, recovering at a veterinary clinic, by Zack Wittman / Tampa Bay Times; bottom, Lennon Knox, recovering at a hospital, from KEYT)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 16th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bites, bitten, brave, california, dog, dogs, florida, haus, heroes, heroic, pets, rattlesnake, rattlesnakes, santa barbara, save, saves, snake, snakes, sunshine, tampa
An autistic boy has gotten his service dog back — and, with her, a little bit of himself, according to his mother.
“I’ve already seen him coming out and expressing himself again and being verbal,” Michele Carlisle said after her son Zach reunited with Delilah, the service dog that was lost, placed in a shelter and adopted out to another home.
“He started talking and he was talking to her the whole way home, and I was like, ‘Oh my God! He’s back. Zach’s back!'”
The Humane Society of Tampa Bay announced Friday on its Facebook page that Zach and Delilah had been reunited after eight months apart.
Last August, shortly after the Carlisle family moved from Alabama to Brandon, Florida, Delilah — Zach’s service dog for six years — ran off.
She was found without identification and taken to the humane society’s shelter, where, four days later, another family adopted her.
Michele Carlisle — though she’d been checking shelters in the weeks after Delilah disappeared — learned later that a photo of the dog had appeared on the humane society’s website months earlier.
When the humane society learned it had accidentally adopted out a service dog, it contacted Delilah’s new family, but the family declined to return her, saying she had bonded with her new family in the months they’d been together.
But WTSP reported that after seeing news reports on the boy’s difficulty coping without Delilah, they changed their mind and decided Delilah should be with him.
Zach has autism and suffers from seizures. Delilah serves as his therapy dog, alerting the family to upcoming seizures, comforting Zach and helping him overcome his social anxiety and tendency not to speak.
When the two were reunited at the humane society, Zach, 8, was talking plenty: “Is it her?” he whispered to his mother. “It is! Oh, my God… Best day ever.”
Delilah, newly equipped with a microchip, sniffed Zach, jumped up on him and licked his face.
According to his mother, Zach doesn’t often speak to people around him, but freely shares his feeling with Delilah.
Michele Carlisle thanked the family for returning her.
” … I really do appreciate them doing the right thing and coming forward and bringing her back, so that we could be reunited because that was huge,” she said.
“They never wanted to take a dog from a family that needed it,” said Dr. Nicole Cornett, the veterinarian for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. “They just felt that with everything that happened that it would be in the dog’s best interest and in Zach’s best interest to give them back.”
You can see a video of the reunion here.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 4th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoption, animals, autism, delilah, dog, dogs, florida, humane society, humane society of tampa bay, michele carlisle, pets, returned, reunion, seizures, service dog, shelters, therapy dog, zach, zack
Not every time a police officer encounters three barking pit bulls does the story end on a positive note, but I promise this one won’t haunt you.
Three pit bulls trapped in a storm drain on the side of a Florida highway were rescued earlier this week, thanks to the efforts of police, animal control officers and a fire department rescue team.
A Cocoa police officer found the dogs Tuesday morning after hearing them barking, WFTV reported
Officer Matt Rush called Brevard County Animal Services officers, who then called Cocoa Fire Rescue to help remove the heavy grate they were trapped under.
Firefighters were able to pry open the grate and the dogs were safely removed and turned over to Brevard County Animal Services. According to a Facebook post, the dogs, who had no tags or other identification, have been returned to their owner.
“My first thought was, ‘How in the world did they get in there, and how did I manage to hear them?'” Rush said.
Authorities say the dog may have gone into an open drain nearby that leads into the storm sewer system.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 30th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal control, animal services, animals, brevard county, cocoa, dog, dogs, fire rescue, florida, grate, pets, pit bulls, police, rescue, rescued, saved, sewer, storm sewer, trapped, video
A dog and a pig escaped from their Florida home through a hole in the fence and stayed by each other’s side until they were found a day later.
On Wednesday morning, the duo was found wandering down Merrily Circle in Seffner.
The person who found them led the dog to their yard, and the pig followed,
When animal control officers tried to put the dog in a truck, the pig began screeching, not wanting to be separated from his friend.
Pictures of the two were posted on the Facebook page of Lost and Found Pets of Hillsborough County, leading to some news coverage, leading to their owner reclaming them.
Willie Landry said he got a phone call from someone who had seen a TV report about the pair being found.
Petey (the pig) and K-2 (the dog) are long time best friends, he told Fox 13.
“They grew up together, they live together … They’re like my kids. They’re family.”
Petey the pig, Landry said, thinks he’s a dog and shares a playhouse with K-2 and another family dog.
“I’m just glad to have them back home,” he said.
(Photo: Lost and Found Pets Of Hillsborough County)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 25th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, dog, dog and pig, dogs, florida, found, k-2, k2, lost, petey, petey the pig, pets, pig, pig and dog, seffner
Due to an apparent miscommunication between volunteers, Rollin, described as a one-year-old Aussie mixed-breed, died Friday of heat related causes.
Rollin was one of two humane society dogs that began barking at the adoption event and were taken from the store to the transport van.
A volunteer put the dogs in cages and left the van running with the air conditioning on, calling a transport volunteer to pick them up.
The transport volunteer arrived at the PetSmart and drove the vehicle back to the humane society, apparently under the belief she was transporting only one dog.
That dog had gotten out its kennel inside the van during the ride and rode in the front of the vehicle.
Once at the shelter, another volunteer removed that dog and the driver returned the vehicle to PetSmart, not realizing Rollin was still inside.
Rollin was found dead around 5 p.m. when volunteers began returning other dogs at the event to the van.
Society officials, much to their credit, made the incident public Monday.
Bruce Fishalow, executive director of the society, told the Ocala Star-Banner it was the first incident of its type in the organization’s history.
“As an organization that works so hard to preserve life, this is devastating to us,” he told the newspaper.
Fishalow said the society is adopting new transportation guidelines, called Rollin’s Rules, to prevent a similar tragedy.
The changes include creating a transport log sheet so that volunteer drivers know how many dogs are inside when they transport.
The transport vans have eight kennels, and the new rules will require volunteers to check each one whenever dogs are dropped off at a location.
Rollin was buried on the humane society’s property.
“We take our responsibility to our cats and dogs very seriously,” said Fishalow, who was attending an animal abuse meeting when the incident took place, “and are so very sad that this happened.”
(Photo: Humane Society of Marion County)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 16th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoption, animals, dead, dies, dog, dogs, florida, heat, humane society of marion county, left, miscommunication, pets, shelter, shelters, transport, van, vehicle, volunteers
Dear Special Place in Hell:
I am writing in hopes of making a reservation for two or more Florida punks who haven’t been arrested yet, but probably will soon be.
I am sure you will agree that, despite what I am guessing to be their tender ages, they have already proven well worth spending eternity at your time-honored establishment.
Of course, once they are found, tried and convicted, they will likely spend some more time in this earthly realm before arriving at your most unpearly gates — at least several years, we’d hope, in one of Florida’s charming prison facilities.
But we wanted to make sure you would hold a place for them, as well.
If you require documentation of their acts, here is a brief account.
Last Friday, down in Pembroke Pines — in the state of Florida (I’m sure you’re familiar with it) — a woman named Verline Barthelemy let her 13-year-old Pomeranian, Mr. Fox, out in the yard while she was cooking.
When she went to let him back in, a few minutes later, he could not be found.
On Saturday, Barthelemy’s boyfriend found Mr. Fox’s body on the back porch along with a note that read, “We beat it 2 death. LOL! Hahaha!”
Barthelemy called police and took Mr. Fox’s body to a veterinarian, who confirmed the dog likely died from being repeatedly kicked. X-rays showed Mr. Fox had a dislocated spine, broken ribs and a broken jaw, among other injuries.
You can find all this information at Local 10 News.
We are sure you will agree these perpetrators deserve your lowest level suite — the one closest to the fire.
True, they have not yet been identified, but certainly local police authorities will be giving their all to track them down and bring them to justice. They’ve asked anyone with information to call police at 954-431-2200.
I don’t know if you guys compare notes or anything, but, just to let you know, we have also sent a request to your counterpart/nemesis/antithesis up in Heaven, asking him to ensure that justice comes swiftly.
Once that happens, we are happy to let our fine correctional facilities, and all they have to offer — hahaha, lol — take over.
After that though, when these heartless sadists come to an end of their natural lives and they show up at your front desk, we ask that you accommodate them in that most special wing of your special place in Hell.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 12th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arrest, cruelty, dog, dogs, florida, hell, investigation, killed, letter, mr. fox, note, pembroke pines, pet, pets, pomeranian, prison, verlina barthelemy