16 March 2012

Dog therapyTHE Salvation Army is finding unusual ways to help people whose homes and livelihoods were destroyed by tornadoes in southern Indiana, USA. Animal-assisted therapy teams from the organization HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response (AACR) have visited residents in the tornado-stricken areas, in partnership with The Salvation Army.

Since HOPE AACR was founded in 2001 it has grown to have more than 100 certified crisis response teams in five regions that cover 34 states. Members of HOPE have responded to all manner of crises, including major hurricanes, wildfires, train derailments and school shootings.

Gayle Sprinkle with her dog Charlie and Deirdre Stanon with Brie assisted Captain Cynthia Shiels of The Salvation Army in bringing smiles and joy to tornado survivors.

'It’s amazing to see,' says Captain Shiels. 'People come up to the dogs and give them a hug. You can see their stress start to go down and they just light up. Pretty soon they’re opening up about their experience and their needs.'

Bringing a smileIn addition to the successful animal therapy teamwork, The Salvation Army continues to assist families into the second week of tornado recovery. As of Monday 12 March, more than 9,500 meals had been served since the Army began tornado relief work in the region. In Borden, more than 40 families received emergency financial assistance over the weekend. Financial assistance distribution has also begun in Henryville.

To date, more than 150 Emergency Disaster Service volunteers have put in 2,360 hours for The Salvation Army’s response efforts – equivalent to almost 100 days.

For more information on The Salvation Army's continued response, go to http://disaster.salvationarmyusa.org, http://blog.salvationarmyusa.org/, www.facebook.com/salvationarmyusa or www.twitter.com/salvationarmyus.

The Salvation Army's International Emergency Services

 Photos have been made available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/salvationarmyindiana/ for press and other uses. Please credit: 'Photo by Michael Rowland, Copyright © 2012 The Salvation Army'.

 To learn more about HOPE AACR, go to http://www.hopeaacr.org