FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — As Michigan’s Oxford community continues to heal after the recent school shooting that left four students dead and others injured, they are getting some help from Fort Wayne.
As a pup in Lutheran Churches Charities’ (LCC) Comfort K-9 program, golden retriever Jared spends most of his time during the year with students at Holy Cross Lutheran School and Concordia Lutheran High School. However, this month he is on a special mission to help students in Oxford Township, Michigan process the Oxford High School shooting.
LCC uses Comfort K-9s to help their students process their emotions around the country. While that is their day-to-day job, when tragedy hits, the organization sends K-9s like Jared to help. In the past, they have deployed LCC Comfort K-9s to help people grieve the Sandy Hook and Parkland school shootings as well as the 2017 mass shooting at a Las Vegas country music festival and the condominium collapse in Surfside Florida earlier this year.
Jared is one of five Indiana K-9s and two Ohio K-9s who have been going around to different churches and schools in the Oxford area. Jared’s handler said the K-9s help because they have a special way to help people process their trauma.
“Petting a dog, lowers the heart rate and also lowers the blood pressure, those are medical facts,” said Andrienne Bolinger, a handler for LCC Comfort Dog Ministries in Fort Wayne. “That helps to relax the people that we’re visiting, and they may open up and they might talk about things in their past or something that’s bothering them now, especially in this, this situation. We’re just there to bring the dogs to them and listen, and let them just have some time to decompress and de-stress.”
LCC also brought along a more lasting way for people to grieve. The handlers brought along blue and white crosses to put up at a memorial for the victims.
“It’s something kids can write down, or parents or anyone can write notes to the deceased,” said Bonnie Fear, LCC K-9 Crisis respond coordinator. “Their name is on it with a Bible verse, and [visitors] can write their names, they can write messages, and we’re hoping that those hearts hopefully end up with the family or in a good place where it’s appropriate for that person to keep that memory.”
Jared will make a short return to Fort Wayne on Friday, then return to Michigan on Monday for another week of serving.