Comfort dogs help MSU healing efforts 1 year later

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Spartans from all over are still grieving from the deadly shooting on Michigan State University’s campus that happened one year ago.

But there are still some ways for people to put on a smile as we navigate through the 1-year mark of the tragedy, including one that has four legs and a furry tail.

Comfort dogs help MSU healing efforts 1 year later. (WLNS)
Comfort dogs help MSU healing efforts 1 year later. (WLNS)

The group ‘Buddy’s PALS’ calls them comfort dogs and just like the name indicates, it’s their job to comfort.

“Michigan State is engrained in our culture,” Handler Erica Stoll said. “That’s what we grew up with.”

And the students on campus appreciate what the group did to help get them through a tough time.

“I had two classes with two of the people who unfortunately passed away,” MSU Student Emerson Voss said. “My friends and I had a blast with the therapy dogs last year. That was half of the reason we came back to campus early.”

But Stoll said the group didn’t have to think twice.

“When everything happened, there was no question on what we were going to do that day. When my husband and I saw things happen, I knew,” Stoll said.

Stoll and her team immediately jumped into action.

“And I remember washing my shirt and I got Stella’s bandana and I washed her bandana and let it air dry and that morning we got the call that said you need to go to the Hannah Center. And I said to Stella, ‘It’s time to go. It’s time to go see your kids,” the handler added.

The more than 60 dogs with the group have continued on the healing efforts, even going to the opening of Berkey Hall this semester.

“They just loved on her, they hugged her and I just had a whole respect for the mental health community but I had a whole new respect for my dog. An empathy level of what she was capable of doing,” Stoll said.

Spartans said they don’t take any of it for granted.

“Just to know that we had the entire community around us and supporting us and so many people to reach out to,” Voss said.

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