New Jersey group heads to Florida to assist in condo rescue effort with comfort dogs

As the search continues for victims in the Miami-area building collapse, a team from southern New Jersey is hoping to provide comfort for families and those on the front lines.

News 12 Staff

Jul 1, 2021, 10:57 PM

Updated 1,023 days ago

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As the search continues for victims in the Miami-area building collapse, a team from southern New Jersey is hoping to provide comfort for families and those on the front lines.
As crews work through the rubble in Sunrise, Florida, John Hunt and his team from Crisis Response Canines are there to provide emotional support.
“The dog allows them that - an opportunity to just decompress,” says Hunt. “Right now, we have three dogs that are deployed, and we have another three on the way and we have another dog coming subsequent to that."
The group is currently stationed at the reunification site, interacting with families. Hunt says that this situation is different from tragedies they have responded to in the past because the families are still waiting for answers.
“I happen to meet with a father whose son is missing and, again, you can – I hate to say this - but you can see there’s a sense of hopelessness as he was talking to me,” Hunt says.
Hunt’s group is also making its way to the site to give first responders a chance to pause and decompress.
“They were coming off the pile and they saw us, and they wanted to interact with us and it’s just that brief moment of decompression if you will,” says Hunt.
More crisis response canines from New Jersey will join the effort later this week. And with the fluidity of the situation, Hunt says that his team will be there for several weeks.
"You walk out, and you're with them and you start to sort of live what they're living, unfortunately. And then you come back to your room and realize that you're not even close to what they're experiencing,” says Hunt. “It's a challenge but it's the reason we're here, and we do have a passion for this and we're grateful for the opportunity."
Rescue efforts at the site had been halted for a time out of concern about the stability of the remaining structure. Officials say crews noticed widening cracks and up to a foot of movement in a large column early Thursday morning.
The mayor of Surfside said that worked resumed Thursday evening.


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