Therapy dogs comfort families of Miami building collapse

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SURFSIDE, Fla., June 27 (Reuters) – Some families of those missing in the Miami-area building collapse have found solace in the therapy dogs brought in while they wait for news to be agonizing.

With some 150 people missing, many of whom could be buried under the rubble, the Boricuas de Corazon disaster relief team have brought in a pair of four-legged friends: Tal, a 7-year-old Akbash weighing 130 pounds ( 59 kg), and Molley, a 1 year old Walker Coonhound.

Dogs could help victims deal with their emotions, said Linda Perez, president of Boricuas de Corazon, a non-profit group dedicated to helping victims of disasters. Boricua is a nickname for Puerto Ricans, and the group offers services in English and Spanish.

So far, the dogs have linked up with at least four families from Argentina, another from Paraguay and others from Houston, Perez told Reuters.

“They have panic attacks or anxiety issues and we were able to let them work with the dogs, touch the dog, bring out their emotions,” Perez said.

Family members of missing persons kiss at the entrance of a hotel after visiting the site of a partially collapsed residential building in Surfside, near Miami Beach, Florida, United States, June 27, 2021 . REUTERS / Marco Bello

The relatives of the missing have been waiting since Thursday morning for the slightest sign of life from their loved ones. Read more

“They can smell the dog, they can have that contact with their eyes. It’s very neat. Animals absorb everything they feel at the same time and they can be very relaxing for them,” said Perez. mentionned.

The organization partners with other groups that train therapy dogs and are ready to stay with victims for hours as needed.

A distraught woman requested extended dog companionship while awaiting the arrival of her daughter from out of state and was told she could have round-the-clock support, Perez said.

“These people are suffering,” Perez said. “Learning little by little is not pleasant for them. They are under a lot of pressure.”

Reporting by Arlene Eiras and Julio-Cesar Chavez Writing by Daniel Trotta Editing by Matthew Lewis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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