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Therapy Dogs Provide Support in Minneapolis
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Melanie Tschida
 
August 9, 2007

Jennifer Troy is not a licensed therapist, but her dog 'Girl' is. That's what brought Jennifer and 'Girl' to the Family Assistance Center on Friday, August 3. 'Girl' is a Labrador Newfoundland mix who has been a certified therapy dog for about five years. Jennifer and 'Girl' came to the Family Assistance Center to see if they could provide support to the friends and family of the missing and the relief workers at the site.

Jennifer Troy and licensed therapy dog “Girl” meet a Red Cross worker at the family assistance center in Minneapolis, MN.  Girl provides unique comfort to people awaiting information on missing loved ones affected by last week’s bridge collapse.
Jennifer Troy and licensed therapy dog “Girl” meet a Red Cross worker at the family assistance center in Minneapolis, MN. Girl provides unique comfort to people awaiting information on missing loved ones affected by last week’s bridge collapse.
(Photo credit: Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross)

"Therapy dogs provide an element of support that is complementary to the other support systems that are in place," said Jennifer. In the case of such a traumatic and painful event, dogs provide a different level of comfort. "Dogs don't need to know the details. When there aren't words, the dogs are perfect."

In Jennifer's experience, therapy dogs can also help people take their minds off of the situation at hand, even for just a few minutes. "Often people start talking about their own animals, and it might be the first thought they've had of something outside the event itself since it happened. If 'Girl' has provided an ounce of comfort or a moment of relief, she's done her job."

Red Cross Disaster Mental Health volunteer Alan Brankline says it is important to provide a variety of support systems for people when they are experiencing high levels of stress. "In addition to the meals and emotional support that the Red Cross is providing here, we have many partner organizations and agencies providing services at the Family Assistance Center, and each plays a critical role in the recovery. Therapy dogs are a welcome addition to the team."

Coming to the Family Assistance Center was not easy for Jennifer, but it was something she felt compelled to do. "This is a sacred place. The thoughts and feelings that are being shared here are extremely personal and painful. To have been invited to be here is an honor."

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to victims of disaster. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, please do so at the time of your donation. Call 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.


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