SURFSIDE- Some families of those missing in the Miami-area building collapse have found comfort in therapy dogs brought in during the agonizing wait for news.
With some 150 people unaccounted for, many of whom may be buried under the rubble, the Boricuas de Corazón disaster relief team brought in a couple of four-legged friends: Tal, a 7-year-old Akbash who weighs 59 kilos, and Molley, a 1-year-old Walker Coonhound.
Dogs could help victims process their emotions, said Linda Pérez, president of Boricuas de Corazón, a nonprofit group dedicated to helping disaster victims. Boricua is a nickname for Puerto Ricans and the group offers services in English and Spanish.
So far the dogs have supported at least four families from Argentina, another from Paraguay and others who came from Houston, Pérez told Reuters.
“They are having panic attacks or anxiety problems and we have been able to let them work with the dogs, touching the dog, bringing out their emotions,” explained Pérez.
The relatives of the disappeared have been waiting since Thursday morning for any sign of life from their loved ones.
“They can feel the dog, they can have that eye contact. It’s very beautiful. The animals are absorbing everything emotional that they are feeling at the same time and they may be able to be very relaxing for them,” Pérez said.
The organization partners with other groups that train therapy dogs and is prepared to stay with victims for hours as needed.
A distraught woman asked for extended canine companionship while waiting for her daughter to arrive from out of state and was told she could have 24-hour support, Perez said.
“These people are suffering,” Pérez added. “Receiving information little by little is not pleasant for them. They are under a lot of pressure.”
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