Comfort Dogs Are Greeting Uvalde Kids At School On Their First Week Back In The Classroom

Back-to-school time can be anxiety-inducing for a lot of kids, but for those who survived the Uvalde school shooting just months ago, it's utterly terrifying.
Many students have struggled with nightmares and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder since the mass shooting claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers in May. While Robb Elementary, the scene of the massacre, has been demolished, the children are headed back to various schools around the district.

To help the children cope with their feelings of fear and anxiety, comfort dogs have been greeting the kids this week during their first days back in class.
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On Tuesday morning, Uvalde schools reopened for a new year. Many kids were anxious, and some didn't want to get out of the car at all. Luckily, there were some special guests waiting to greet the worried children.
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Ten golden retrievers who work as comfort dogs were present at several schools. The dogs helped distract the kids from their fears over entering the building after the trauma they experienced in May. Bonnie Fear, crisis response coordinator for the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry, told CNN about how the dogs are helping.
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"There was a lot of hesitancy and anxiety about getting out of the car and going into the school," Fear said. "So we placed the dogs outside, and I do believe that that did help some of the kids see that dog and go, 'OK, well, I'm going to go pet the dog.'"
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The dogs have been helping support the community since the shooting. But now the support animals will be present for the first three weeks of school. Ten dogs will travel to eight schools in the district to support as many kids as possible.
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Fear said that some dogs are hanging out in the hallway, while others are sitting with a counselor in case a student needs extra support. "That will keep changing as the needs arise, as the kids get into their routine — and where the dogs are needed, the counselors will instruct us where to go," Fear said. "Our goal is to be present with those that are hurting and in need, and we show up and just be with them in whatever they're feeling."
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Fear said that these dogs are no strangers to helping after school shootings. The Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Ministry teams have been present after the tragedies in Sandy Hook, Parkland, and more.

"We get invited, we show up, and we let the dogs do their work," Fear said.

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