New Jersey dogs bring comfort to those impacted by mass shooting in Boulder
Three dogs from southern New Jersey are now in Boulder, Colorado to help the community cope with the tragedy of last week’s mass shooting.
Sabrina, Kerri and Cece are part of the Tri-State K9 Response Team out of Cherry Hill. Their mission is to comfort anyone in need, often leading their handlers to someone in crisis.
“People calm down. People stop crying. People start talking and that’s a very important part of the process. The dogs sometimes act as our entry into a conversation,” says handler Pamela Bolden. “Sometimes the kids will say to us that they love being with the dogs because dogs don’t ask questions.”
Retired police chief and New Jersey Crisis Intervention team director Edward Dobleman says that beyond the victims and their families, another crucial part the dogs play is comforting first responders.
This is especially important in Boulder, where Officer Eric Talley was laid to rest on Tuesday after being killed in the shooting.
“Our theory that has been passed along for generations in our culture is just to pull up your boots and carry on and I think now, in today’s world, you’re seeing a change in culture and it’s OK to be not OK,” Dobleman says. “We still, as law enforcement, we are very reluctant and sharing that with our families or friends because we’re the problem solvers. But the dogs break that ice.”
The team will head back to New Jersey on Wednesday after being in Boulder for five days. Founder Janice Campbell says that while the team is brought into the worst of tragedies, she is constantly reminded of how needed they are.
“They really do have the ability to know who needs them and where they can be needed the most.
Tri-State K9 Response Team is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that responds across New Jersey and the country.