A group of emotional support dogs arrived in Uvalde, Texas this week after an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School.
The Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) K-9 Ministries provided eight golden retrievers for those needing some support in the wake of the tragedy.
The trained dogs were sent from all over Texas as well as two from Oklahoma and Colorado to provide mourners with a source of comfort.
The dogs were stationed at the vigil, where 21 crosses were erected to represent each life tragically cut short in Tuesday’s massacre.
Bonnie Fear, LCC’s K-9 crisis response coordinator, told ABC News that the dogs can help ease grief-stricken people’s anxiety.
“We just see a lot of shock, crying, [people who are] distraught, especially coming in the day after a mass shooting,” Fear said. “People are not ready to process or listen or answer questions. So we just show up with the dogs.”
“We listen if they talk. We’re silent. We let the dogs connect with people, and they can express their feelings at that time, and we’re not counselors, so we are just present, standing with them in their sorrow,” she added.
The group hopes the dogs will connect with school students, first responders, and families of the victims.
It’s not unusual to see the dogs out in full force to help mourners in the US at a time of immense grief.
The organization provided canine support for past mass shootings, including the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting that left 26 dead.
The dogs were sent to Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. after a gunman killed 17 people in the horrific 2018 massacre.