Sometimes the unconditional love of a dog is all you need.
As flood relief efforts continue throughout Colorado, hundreds of Red Cross volunteers from around the country continue to work around the clock to meet the needs of those impacted. The long hours and time away from home can be tough sometimes, but thanks to the local team from HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response (AACR), Red Crossers recently received a much-needed lift from a couple of loving canines.
Led by Rocky Mountain Regional Director Karen Klein and her HOPE team, border collie Hondo and golden retriever Daniel spent several hours making the rounds among the hundreds of volunteers at headquarters. These dogs – specially trained to provide comfort and encouragement to those affected by crisis – were a welcome sight to the Red Cross team, many of whom have been separated from their own families and pets for several weeks.
“This is the largest group we’ve ever seen but the dogs are loving every minute and the response has been amazing,” said Klein, a team leader and Director for HOPE’s Rocky Mountain Region. “Everybody here has been doing so much to help the community, this is just a great opportunity to say thank you.”
Research has demonstrated that dogs offer many health benefits to humans, including helping to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and of course provide emotional support through difficult times. The HOPE dogs surely met all those needs and more during their time at headquarters.
“This is so great, I miss my dogs so much,” said Victoria Goldfedib, a volunteer from Central Texas as she came to pet Daniel for a third time.
And she wasn’t the only one. By the end of their visit, Daniel and Hondo had secured a number of new lifelong friends in the Red Cross.
HOPE AACR is the first organization certifying Animal-Assisted Crisis Response teams. They have have certified crisis response teams in five regions, covering 30 states. Teams are trained in stress management for humans and canines.
Since September 2001, HOPE AACR teams have responded to the aftermath of crises and disasters, from individual traumas to large scale emergencies. Teams have worked with local and national response agencies, such as FEMA, NOVA, American Red Cross, as well as fire departments, law enforcement agencies, and schools.
For more information about HOPE AACR, please visit http://hopeaacr.org/