Four-Legged Therapists Offer 'Unconditional Love' to Mall Shooting Survivors

Fidos for Freedom offered its services after tragedy struck at The Mall in Columbia.

(Credit: Fidos for Freedom)
(Credit: Fidos for Freedom)
Black labs, golden retrievers and a mastiff comforted those healing from the Columbia mall shootings recently, WJLA reported.

Fidos for Freedom offered free pet therapy Saturday afternoon at its headquarters in Laurel.

It was the first time Fidos for Freedom opened its doors to the public in the wake of a tragedy since the founding of the organization in 1987, according to The Baltimore Sun, which reported the event was not held at the mall itself because the mall had been "overwhelmed with offers of support." 

On Saturday, there was a group prayer before mall-goers observed a moment of silence at 11:15 a.m. to remember the incident that left three people dead exactly one week before. In the afternoon, Fidos for Freedom welcomed community members to its location on Sandy Spring Road, where volunteers receive training so their animals can provide therapy in the community.

Visitors during the open house ranged from volunteers with their dogs to shoppers who had been inside The Mall in Columbia on Jan. 25 when shots rang out.

Members of a family that had been trapped in the back of the Apple store during the mall lockdown told The Baltimore Sun they came to Fidos to "relieve stress."

Organizers of the event said the goal was to provide comfort.

"Our four-legged friends and two-legged friends, we're all here to support you," one Fidos volunteer said on WJLA.

According to The GazetteLaurel Mayor Craig Moe also showed up for the event, which organizers entitled "Comfort for the People of Columbia and Howard County."

Fidos for Freedom Client Services Director Sandra Ball, who was credited with organizing the open house, reportedly said the organization hoped the dogs could provide some assistance for people, with "the unconditional love they give."


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