Hospital dogs flown to El Paso to provide support to victims, first responders
Two specially-trained dogs were flown across Texas on Sunday, to offer their services to victims and first responders impacted by the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.
The dogs, from the Methodist Healthcare System in San Antonio, are specially-trained to provide help to people experiencing grief, stress and trauma.
“The rate of suicides by first resonders — firefighters, paramedics, law enforcement — has escalated from one every seven days to one a day,” Methodist Health Systems said in a press release.
“These dogs can reach places in the heart no human can.”
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According to the hospital, the facility dogs are trained to a higher level than therapy dogs.
“You will actually see them head straight for a person that’s displaying the most distress,” one of the dogs’ handlers, Lee Stanphill told ABC 7.
“It’s pretty amazing to watch and it also just lightens everybody’s spirits generally,” he said.
In a Facebook post Sunday morning, the Methodist Healthcare System said Rudy and Chanel were headed to El Paso to “spread some love at Del Sol, and to visit first responders.”
A subsequent Facebook post on Sunday afternoon said the dogs had landed in El Paso, and were hard at work.
“They are already providing their unconditional love and support to first responders helping them cope through this traumatic time,” the post reads.
According to the press release, the dogs will be staying in El Paso for several days and will visit multiple first responder stations, as well as hospitals in the city.
On Saturday, a gunman opened fire inside of a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people and injuring 24.
Police say the incident is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism.
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Hours later, nine people were killed in a shooting outside of a popular bar in Dayton, Ohio. Twenty-seven people were injured as a result of the incident.
The weekend shootings were the 21st and 22nd mass killings of 2019 in the U.S., according to the AP/USA Today/Northeastern University mass murder database that tracks homicides with four or more people killed — not including the offender.
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In a speech from the White House on Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump condemned the shootings as “barbaric” attacks and crimes “against all humanity.”
During the address, Trump vowed to act with “urgent resolve” in the wake of the shootings, and called for bipartisanship.
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“We must seek real, bipartisan solutions,” Trump said. “We have to do that in a bipartisan manner that will truly make America safer and better for all.”
He said he wanted legislation providing “strong background checks” for gun users, though he has reneged on previous promises after mass attacks. He offered few details.
Trump is scheduled to visit El Paso on Wednesday.
— With files from the Associated Press
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