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ITC: Katie Comfort Dog helps Parkland students heal

Posted at 7:28 AM, Mar 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-07 08:28:08-05

"It is hard to go on these trips, but I know we are needed," said Katie's handler Dawn Gilfry. 

A dozen Lutheran Church Charities K-9 comfort dogs including Katie were in Parkland, Florida last Wednesday when students and staff returned for a modified schedule after the Valentine's Day shooting that killed 17 students and staff members. 

After a tragedy most people want someone who is there for them and that is exactly what Katie is trained to do, comfort and lend an ear. 

"We saw the whole range of emotions, but Katie just helped bring out the emotions that needed to come out," said handler Deb Heuer. 

For three days Katie and her handlers went from classroom to classroom. 

"By petting her it just brings that calmness and they just relax and they start talking," said Gilfry. 

Handler Dawn Gilfry says for a lot of students it was tough to be back in that school.  But the comfort dogs were there for anyone who needed a sense of security and a glimpse of hope.  

"When Katie was in the middle of the room they were running towards her and you could see smiles.  Many of the kids said this was the first time they felt they could laugh and smile," said Gilfry. 

Katie and the other K9's helped students and staff transition from tragedy to what the high school is calling a new normal.  

"One thousand percent Katie did her job.  It was amazing to see the kids interacting with her.  You'd see the stress in them and then they'd sit down with Katie and it just released out of their bodies," said Handler Paula Price.