More than a dozen dogs and their handlers are training in Jacksonville to assist people in the aftermath of tragedies and natural disasters.
The dogs went through security at Jacksonville International Airport and boarded a plane Saturday as part of their crisis response training program.
“It’s all about letting people relax, have some comfort. Have a little bit of downtime from that horrible crisis or disaster,” Julie Scott of HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response said.
14 therapy dogs and their handlers were training in crisis response at the #Jacksonville International Airport today. They provide comfort and support to victims in the aftermath of tragedies and natural disasters @ActionNewsJax pic.twitter.com/Pd2O7aDX3n— Brittney Donovan (@brittneyANjax) April 28, 2018
She told Action News Jax that more than 300 dogs and their handlers have been called on to comfort people after natural disasters and tragedies around the nation.
“We had 17 dog teams from across the United States that responded to Hurricane Irma and we had 20 dog teams in Texas that responded to Hurricane Harvey,” Scott said.
She said the teams have also provided support in the aftermath of school shootings and the Pulse Nightclub massacre.
"We assisted folks in law enforcement, the dispatchers, who received some of the last calls from the victims," Scott said.
Nine dogs and their handlers from the Jacksonville area were training Saturday.
“I volunteer because I believe in the work these animals do and how much of a difference they make on a daily basis,” Lori Coleman said.
She brought her Australian shepherd, Deacon, to the three-day training event.
This is Deacon. He is an Australian Shepherd training to be a crisis response dog in #Jacksonville. On CBS47 at 6: How Deacon and other crisis response teams make a difference after tragedies across the nation @ActionNewsJax pic.twitter.com/3e5TpgYuKo— Brittney Donovan (@brittneyANjax) April 28, 2018
“He’s got a very easygoing temperament. That’s what makes him so good at his work,” she said. “He’s very intuitive. He can sense when somebody needs some attention.”
Deacon and the other dogs can be called on at any time to respond to the aftermath of a tragedy.
“Just devastating moments for people,” Coleman said. “We are hoping to bring just a moment of comfort and peace.”
You can learn more about HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response and victims the teams have supported on the nonprofit’s Facebook page.
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