Therapy dogs gathered at Central Park Saturday to provide comfort to those in need of pet therapy in the aftermath of the Nov. 14 shooting at Saugus High School.
More than 30 dogs, of all different breeds and sizes, filled the lawn by the flagpole and each dog had its own story, yet their purpose was the same: to comfort those in need.
Sandy Dublin, co-organizer of the event from Pet Partner Therapy Dogs, said this event was created for anyone in the community who needed pet therapy. It is an opportunity for parents, children and others to receive this comfort from the therapy dogs, officials said.
“We know the magic that dogs can do,” said Pam English, co-organizer of the event from Alliance of Therapy Dogs. “Dogs have an innate sense when someone is stressed or sad and they can bond with them.”
English’s dog, Ember, has contributed to a long line of service dogs. Many of her puppies have become guide and service dogs, according to English.
Four therapy dog organizations attended the event: Pet Partners, Go TEAM Therapy Dogs, Alliance of Therapy Dogs and Love on a Leash. Though they all came from different organizations, they work together because they all share the same common goal, English says.
Atlas, Nicole Graham’s American Staffordshire, is proof that therapy dogs come in all breeds. Atlas is considered a “bully breed” so Graham actively works to deconstruct the misconceptions associated with that label.
“I think it is important for people to see that they are average dogs and they can give back just like any other dog,” said Graham. “They have a demeanor about them that is special and people need to see that side of them.”
In the last week, many of these dogs have visited different schools in the area to provide comfort to those impacted by the Saugus shooting on Nov. 14. Penny, Melody Donovan’s dog, was one of those dogs.
“(Penny) has had lots of tears and hugs and is taking in every emotion they have,” said Donovan from Pet Partners. “They can cry on her and she can take your tears.”