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Mercy the comfort dog helps students grieve during trauma

Updated: Sep. 24, 2021 at 3:12 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Through the record-breaking violence that’s plaguing the the city of Louisville, and a particularly violent week, a local church has provided support in a unique way, especially at area schools.

Mercy the comfort dog lent a helping paw this week for grieving students. She’s eight years old and has a knack for making people happy. In fact, she’s a grizzled veteran.

From the deadly 2018 shooting at Marshall County High School in Kentucky to the devastating school shooting in Parkland, Fla., a month later, Mercy has helped students through a lot of trauma.

“The only criteria we have is a need and an invitation,” said Doug Netherton, who calls himself the top dog at Our Savior Lutheran Comfort Dog Ministry in Louisville.

Most recently, Mercy and her handlers were invited to Eastern High School in Louisville, after a student was shot and killed waiting for his bus Wednesday.

“I really feel for those kiddos,” handler Amy Romines said. “It felt like we were bringing a little bit of hope and love into a tough situation.”

Romines joined the program after seeing how Mercy interacted with her brother, who was dying of cancer.

Whether it’s school children, army veterans or cancer patients, Mercy’s there.

”I just get the feeling that we have shown grace, compassion and mercy to people who are hurting,” handler Sherry Ederheimer said, “and that’s one of the best things that can happen in this world.”

Ederheimer said dogs are the perfect companion for people struggling with grief, anxiety or emotional pain.

“They don’t judge. They just love,” she said. “Mercy looks at you and it’s almost as if she’s saying, ‘come here and sit down’ and ‘let me be next to you.’”

The Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry is based in Chicago.

Mercy is based in Louisville. She’s one of several dogs around the country doing what she does.

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