Rescue pets provide comfort after Dayton shooting

Kitten in a playpen with a sign that says, "Come Get Some Love From a Furry Friend"Sometimes pets help heal our hearts like no one or nothing else can. That’s why, just 36 hours after the August 4th, 2019, mass shooting in Dayton’s Oregon District, nearly 200 people lined up on the same block where the tragedy took place, just to hold a puppy named Happy and a kitten named Jenny, two adoptable pets from the Humane Society of Greater Dayton.

It was a tragic day, made harder by the fact that in El Paso people were also grieving from a mass shooting that took place just hours before in a local Walmart. But some special pets helped to support people just by doing what comes naturally to them — giving unconditional love.

Cuddling homeless pets in a shelter

Woman wearing an orange safety vest petting a kitten in a playpen“We saw a flood of emotions from our community that day,” says Brian Weltge, president and CEO of the Humane Society of Greater Dayton. “We saw people hurting who were able to smile for just a moment as they shook a ribbon toy at Jenny or snuggled up and embraced Happy. Time and time again, people came up to thank us for being there, but the truth is we couldn't imagine being anywhere else.”

Amanda Hensler, co-owner of Heart Mercantile (located across the street from where the tragedy unfolded), was one of the people who held Happy that day. “She was just so comforting, nestling her little body right into my heart,” says Amanda. “Just petting Happy calmed me and gave me something to smile about during so much of the chaos that surrounded us.”

Pets make people smile when they need it most

Smiling woman holding a small gray and white kittenAfter the shooting in Dayton, the shelter invited anyone in need of more unconditional love to come to the shelter, where they could hold a homeless pet in a quiet room for as long as they needed. And recently, pets from the shelter were brought over to three local news stations to comfort journalists.

Nathan Edwards, news anchor at Dayton 24/7, was reminded of how valuable animal shelters are to their communities. “It’s been a rough week covering this horrible tragedy,” he says. “But getting to hold a kitten instantly put a smile on my face and helped in the healing process.”

Volunteer for a shelter near you

Photos courtesy of the Humane Society of Greater Dayton