Comfort Dogs Help Residents Heal After Shooting
One of the 2 vehicles shot at yesterday was an Immanuel Lutheran Church van. Five people and 2 comfort dogs were in the van, traveling to St. Louis. Today, comfort dogs from all over the Midwest are in Joplin to support those affected by the shooting.
Immanuel Lutheran church members are still reeling from Saturday’s shooting.
“This is a very traumatic experience for our comfort dog team. We’re used to going out and helping people who are going through crisis, going through trauma and we’re the ones who experienced trauma this time,” says Pastor Jason Glaskey.
Police confirm that a 4th person in the church van, a minor, was brought to the hospital Saturday night with injuries consistent with a graze wound.
Ken Eby, the van driver, is still in critical condition. A bullet punctured his lung and pulmonary artery and doctors are keeping him sedated so that he can heal.
And while comfort dogs Louie and Jackson are healing from their wounds, several golden retrievers from 5 different states come to provide support and comfort.
“It’s just so humbling to be in someone’s presence whether it’s a child or adult and to see them give all of their emotions in the pets to the dogs and to see the dogs reactions,” says Rich Martin, Director of the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Ministry.
In the sanctuary, the dogs are there for children to lean on as Glaskey explains the shooting and prays for continued healing for all involved.
“As far as forgiving the young man who did this, were still sorting through our emotions right now. It’s very difficult since we’re just a day into this. We care about our people and about our dogs and we do care about him too. We know Jesus loves us and loves him as well and we are praying that we will be able to forgive him and move forward with this with God’s grace,” says Glaskey.
While many residents still have questions as to why the acts of violence happened in Joplin, the dogs help to provide comfort and encourage healing.
Martin says they are hoping to help provide comfort to the first responders, law enforcement, and medical providers that have also been impacted by the shootings.