New Jersey therapy dogs offer care, cuddles in wake of Uvalde, Texas school massacre

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- Care and cuddles -- that's the mission for a therapy dog team from New Jersey, which just completed a trip to Texas following another mass shooting.

Exon, Tarik, and Axel are back home in Gloucester Township after they traveled to Uvalde, Texas in the wake of the school shooting massacre.

They made the more than 1,800-mile trip to provide support to first responders and the community.

"We are blessed with special dogs," said John Hunt, the chief operations coordinator for the non-profit Crisis Response Canines.

The dogs got back Tuesday night after about a week-long trip.

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They work with the non-profit organization and are trained to provide support after traumatic incidents.

Volunteers like Becky Langer said the people in Texas felt the love from the dogs.

"They're all over them," Langer said. "They're hugging them, they're petting them, they're kissing them, they just love them," Langer said.

She is a volunteer network liaison for the non-profit.

Nancy Mittleman and her dog Tarik provided support to grieving families, including a grandfather she can't forget.

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"The first question he asked me is, 'can your dog help me heal?' and at the end of the conversation that we had with him, giving the dog hugs and kisses and petting the dog, he said, 'I think I answered my own question, your dog definitely helped me heal,'" Mittleman said.

Volunteers say the dogs carried a lot of pain from the community in crisis.

"You can see it as they're visiting people," Langer said. "You can see they sort of look a little heavy almost, so we make sure we give our dogs lots of breaks."

While there were lows, there were also many highs.

"The thing that I walked away with the most was almost a sense of hope because in the depths of their grief that community came together and the support that surrounded these families was absolutely amazing," Mittleman said.

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