COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The pain the Tusky Valley community is feeling is unimaginable. Moments after the deadly Interstate 70 crash, the Franklin County Sheriff’s therapy dog unit, along with chaplains, headed to a reunification site to help in any way they could.
While the unit realizes that they can’t take the pain away when a traumatic incident occurs, but if the dogs can help relieve the pain for even a moment, then they’re doing something right.
“Our dogs were a tool for them and we were able to provide some services so they could have an outlet for emotion and psychological trauma,” said Franklin County Deputy Sheriff Darrah Metz.
Mattis, Woody and Bindi spent this past Tuesday at the reunification site, comforting the victims of the I-70 crash.
“Our dogs were there with the families and students and staff, while they were waiting for their parents to get there,” Metz said.
The next day, the three headed to Tusky Valley to provide support to the students and staff. Metz said they did a great job.
“When our dogs interact with these kids, it just gives them that moment too, it’s ok to feel what you’re feeling and it’s ok to smile or laugh at a dog when they’re acting crazy, rolling on their back or being silly. It’s ok to feel those positive emotions even though everything in your body, your heart, your soul is telling you that this is awful, this is sad,” Metz said.
The unit began in 2017 – Mattis was the first law enforcement therapy dog in the state and sixth in the country. Since then, the unit became so popular, it has even traveled out of state to assist.
“It’s a program where you’re really giving back to the community,” said Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin.
Baldwin said that Sheriff Campbell out of Tusky Valley asked for help. They sent therapy dogs and chaplains.
“The sheriffs are one large family, when one sheriff has a need, we all reach out and do what we can. We were able to send our resources there to which they were very appreciative. I believed it helped,” Baldwin said. “Dogs are non-judgmental. They say they’re a man’s best friend and they truly are. It’s just something to help at that moment to comfort and I’m just very proud of that unit.”
The program continues to expand and improve. It’s solely funded by donations and community partners. The whole goal is to bring comfort and healing to anyone that needs it.
Both Metz and Baldwin said those who feel like they can benefit from therapy dogs should reach out. They want to help the community as much as possible.