Comfort Dogs Arrive from Several States to Lend a Paw of Comfort to Miami Condo Rescuers

When times get toughest, man’s best friend can often be the keystone in keeping our spirits from sinking too low.

Nine golden retrievers have been brought in from out-of-state to help first responders cope with the emotional toil of the Miami Surfside condo collapse which happened some days ago.

These comfort canines work similarly to therapy dogs—their job right now is to help rescuers cope with the emotional toil of the collapse.

“These dogs are here for you,” said Bonnie Fear, of the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry, according to WPLG Local 10. “A lot of times they [first responders] come up, they’ll fall to their knees, they’ll start crying or they’ll smile. We try not to say anything, we let the dog be the bridge for those people to grieve the loss, whatever they’re feeling.”

Therapy dogs from Miami Dade County Fire Departments are already on the job, which represent a variety of larger and smaller dog breeds. The retrievers are staying at the Holy Cross Lutheran Church while they wait to be called into action.

Comfort dogs are a strong and well-proven therapy for depression, anxiety, and other forms of distress.

The hypothesis is that over many years of being rewarded for comforting humans, they developed a heightened sensitivity to distress, such that they will turn submissive to comfort a crying stranger.

“We are now very well aware that we can potentially be [impacted] by stress like PTSD, like suicide ideation, and that is what this team was designed to prevent,” Capt. Shawn Campana, a veteran of the Miami Dade Fire Dept, told WPLG Local 10 in an earlier report. “When a human does what we call friendly petting, which means we get our fingertips into their skin, our bodies release oxytocin.”

Oxytocin is a hormone that creates feelings of comfort and happiness, and as much as these dogs can give to the first responders the better.