‘Dogs don’t judge, just all love to give’: Animals offer support at Uvalde memorial

Therapy dogs from out of state offer emotional support to the community of Uvalde

"It’s like emotional first aid, and the unusual thing, it’s really not us doing the work; it’s really these dogs, were just holding the leash."

UVALDE – Shirley Graziano and her team from Crisis Response Canine are in Uvalde Sunday, offering support to community members in response to the tragic school shooting.

The Crisis Response Canine Team is an Oregon-based organization that responds to crises, trauma and disasters in communities across the United States, according to their website. They mobilized to visit South Texas following the school shooting that killed 21 people — 19 teachers and two students.

“Many of us in our group are trained in critical incident stress management, it’s like emotional first aid, and the unusual thing, it’s really not us doing the work; it’s really these dogs, were just holding the leash,” said Graziano.

Graziano came to Uvalde from Ohio.

“The dogs draw people to them, especially children; maybe the children are just traumatized and just don’t want to talk or feel like they aren’t being heard. They can sit down, and whether we hear them or only the dog hears them, it just it really makes people want to open up,” said Graziano.

Mourners could be seen petting and taking photos with the dogs. The crew of canines included golden retrievers, a border collie and other breeds.

“Dogs don’t judge, and they are never going to say something inappropriate to someone; they’re just there. They have nothing to say and just all love to give,” said Graziano. “We hope to get the message that we care, we can’t... there’s not a lot that we can do, we can’t make this different, but maybe we can make it a slight bit better. My hopes are that perhaps we touch somebody.”

Earlier this week, dogs with Therapy Animals of San Antonio — an all-volunteer non-profit organization, visited Uvalde.

Dogs like Scout, a 6-year-old female therapy dog, were at the Uvalde Civic Center offering support on Wednesday.

Read more about Sunday’s memorial:


About the Author:

Emily Ramirez is a Digital Producer trainee for KSAT 12. She has written and photographed for several magazines and newspapers, including San Antonio Magazine, Austin Monthly and the San Antonio Current. A proud San Antonio native and graduate of Southwestern University in Georgetown, she is now completing her M.A. at UTSA.