As the Orlando community tries to heal after the massacre nearly two weeks ago, some support is coming their way in an unexpected form from Tennessee.

Crisis response canines are specially trained dogs that have the skills to interact with strangers at the worst times of their lives. There’s a new volunteer team in Middle Tennessee ready to comfort in emergencies as severe as Orlando.

Kinsey and Alexis work with their handlers as part of a volunteer team with HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response, and they are the first team in Middle Tennessee.

(for full story, click here)

Reported by Briona Arradondo

FEMA offers “A Beginner’s Guide to Comfort Dogs”

Just like with FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue dogs, comfort dogs can be a variety of breeds. The individual dog and its temperament is what really matters. You see lots of Labs and golden retrievers, but HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response has a whole spectrum of dogs: from Newfoundlands to Shihtzus and from mixed breeds to show dogs.

Teams spring into action after both manmade and natural disasters and FEMA works through HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response to activate them. HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response is a member of the National Voluntary Agencies Active in Disaster, a network of over 50 organizations committed to supporting individuals and communities impacted by disaster events. Their dogs helped us respond to the Oso mudslide in Washington state in 2014 as well as last fall’s historic flooding across South Carolina.

(see full article by Jessica Stapf here)

Crisis response dog dispatched to the Station Mall

If there is a terrorist attack or other tragedy in North America, Katie-Lynn may be one of the dogs called in to help with the healing process.

Golden Retriever Katie-Lynn is one of about 300 dogs that are part of the HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response (AACR), an organization that provides “comfort dog support to individuals affected by crises and disasters.”

Full story by: Jeff Klassen

HOPE participates in FEMA’s First Annual Voluntary Organization Partnership Day

At the end of October, representatives from many of the voluntary agencies and non-profit organizations we work with came together for the first event of this kind in Washington, DC. The event was designed to build, solidify, and highlight many of the connections that make disaster response and recovery successful.

Beth Zimmerman kicked off the day with opening remarks. She is FEMA’s Associate Administrator for Response and Recovery and her comments highlighted the work of our voluntary, faith-based, and community partners, particularly in disasters that aren’t severe enough to require FEMA’s assistance: “Each and every person and organization… comes together to help these communities on a daily basis.”

Throughout the day, organizations shared stories about how they work together to help communities across the country, and sometimes even the world. Ideas were shared, business cards swapped, and partnerships that are forged under pressure during disasters had a chance to bloom on a “blue sky day.” (In emergency management terms, we call this “steady state.”)

(click here for full story)

HOPE Teams Interviewed by FEMA

Federal Emergency Management Agency interviewed HOPE teams serving at the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center at the Sumter County Civic Center in South Carolina.  (click here)

LaSalle High School Welcomes Therapy Dogs For Grief Counseling

In the wake of this tragedy (the death of a high school football player), LaSalle High School wanted to do whatever they could for students.

With today being the first day back after the tragic news of Mitchell Snyder’s death, the high school brought in different types of counseling services for students.  One of these included therapy dogs from Hope Animal Assisted Crisis Response.  “It brings a lot of comfort and encouragement,” Hope Animal Assisted Crisis Response volunteer Julia Meier said. “Physically they actually absorb the stress of the people that are petting them. The people feel better because they’re feeling calmed down.”

For full story by Blayke Roznowski and video, click here

HOPE Teams Support Camp Noah, Maryland

Crisfield Holds 2nd Annual ‘Camp Noah’ for Disaster Relief
By Lauren Holloway | July 29, 2015

HOPE Teams recently supported Camp Noah – a national program developed by Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota to help children by providing a safe place to process their experience and build resiliency for the future.

Emma & The Bear Goldstein relax with the kids

(click here for article)

HOPE’s Certification Workshop Comes to Binghamton, NY

Relieving disaster through dog therapy
By David Hermanovitch

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Dogs, known as man’s best friend, are also known to assist people with a variety of medical conditions. On Friday, dogs from all across the nation gathered at the Binghamton University Downtown Center to learn how to provide a different kind of support.
Nearly a dozen dogs and their handlers are earning national certification through HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis Response (AACR) during a three-day course. The course began Friday and runs through Sunday. After the course, the animals will be certified disaster relief dogs.
(click here for story and video)


Every year HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis Response holds their annual meeting in a different location. The nonprofit therapy dog organization has five regions, and each year one of them gets to choose  the city. This year the decision fell to the Southeast Region. They chose Charleston.

 When the news broke that nine people had been gunned down in the basement of the Emanuel AME Church, HOPE handlers Cindy Becker and Julie Scott were able to immediately mobilize their certified therapy dogs, Porsha and George, quickly bringing comfort to a city struck by an unimaginable tragedy.

(click here for full story by Erika Mansourian)

Photo by Rolland E Heagy

Therapy Dogs Bring Smiles to South Carolina After Church Tragedy

HOPE teams have been with the people of Charleston as they remember the lives of those who were taken too soon and recover to carry on their legacy.

Click here for a story from People Magazine’s Alexandra Rockey Fleming