Therapy Dogs Send Off Firefighters to Battle California Wildfires Near Thousand Oaks

Mimi Nguyen Ly
By Mimi Nguyen Ly
November 14, 2018US News

Special therapy dogs stood with their handlers in an orderly row in Irvine, California, on Nov. 11. They gathered to send off firefighters who were headed to join in the battle against wildfires near Thousand Oaks.

The group of therapy dogs, called LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs, were also on hand to bestow hugs and kisses before the firefighters of Orange County Fire Authority drove away.

People also praised the firefighters and the group of dogs on social media, wishing them well. “Amazing work the firefighters are doing and grateful these comfort dogs can share some of the love and appreciation we all feel,” Danielle Naftulin wrote on the social platform.

Therapy dogs being cuddled
The group of therapy dogs, called LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs, were also on hand to bestow hugs and kisses before the firefighters of Orange County Fire Authority drove away from Irvine, California to tackle fires near Thousand Oaks on Nov. 11, 2018. (LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs via Storyful)

A short video called “Send Off” posted to Facebook showed the dogs sitting behind red hats as a firetruck drove away in the background.

“My heart is hurting! God help them! And the Goldens with their fireman’s hats, standing so calmly! Love & keeping safe to all,” Virginia DelGesso Puckett wrote.

The deadly Woolsey wildfire in the Thousand Oaks and Malibu areas is one of a flurry of blazes in Southern California. The fires have claimed two live and was 47 percent contained as of early Nov. 14, fire officials said.

The fire had destroyed more than 400 structures and, at its height, displaced about 200,000 people in the mountains and foothills west of Los Angeles. About 97,600 acres have been torched.

The blaze was the most notable of the Southern California wildfires that coincided with Butte County’s killer “Camp Fire” in the northern part of the state that has killed at least 56 people—the state’s deadliest-ever fire.

The search for victims’ remains in the charred ruins of the northern California town of Paradise was set to expand on Nov. 14, while firefighters stepped up efforts to contain the Camp Fire.

The dogs had previously been in the area to visit California Lutheran University and offer support to those in the Thousand Oaks community who had been affected by the Borderline Bar shooting on Nov. 7. The shooting had left 13 people dead, including the gunman himself. A police sergeant, Ron Helus, was also among them.

Research suggests that therapy dogs can reduce stress, as well as symptoms of depression and anxiety in humans. They can also encourage a sense of trust and connection in different situations.

“The role of therapy dogs is to react and respond to people and their environment, under the guidance and direction of their owner,” researchers from Monash University wrote in an article published by The Conversation in March.

“For example, an individual might be encouraged to gently pat or talk to a dog to teach sensitive touch and help them be calm,” they wrote.

Therapy dogs are not service dogs. A service dog is one that assists its owner exclusively, to support people with disabilities such as those with visual impairment, hearing difficulties, or mobility issues.

Storyful and Reuters contributed to this article.

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.