Therapy Dogs Help After Neb. Mall Massacre
OMAHA – Westroads Mall employees returned to work just three days after the massacre that killed nine people, including the shooter, and wounded two others.
To aid in their transition, two therapy dogs and their handlers who belong to Noah's Canine Crisis Response came to work, too.
Wisdom differs when it comes to mourning. Some say time to reflect and talk out issues are helpful, while others say jumping back into everyday life is best.
NCCR dogs Champagne and Mackenzie and their human counterparts, Julie Yoder and Amy Wurst offered mall employees a combination of those methods on that first day back.
The four came to the mall at the request of the Red Cross to help employees and mourners as the holiday season began. Black paper covered store windows and white paper snowflakes were pasted up to honor the victims.
Wurst described a female employee who wasn't working the day of the shootings, but lost friends. Wurst said the woman walked up to Cabernet, her collie, and began petting the dog. The woman petted and spoke to Cabernet for a half hour before departing, saying the dog really helped.
Both Yoder and Wurst said the emotional damage done by 19-year-old Robert A. Hawkins is worse than anything they saw while volunteering after Hurricane Katrina and a tornado that hit Kansas.
Still, the healing power of Cabaret and Yoder's German shepherd Mackenzie appear to have diminished that damage just a little. Enough, at least, to help Omaha start getting back to normal.
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