DDH_ICONS Mass Violence

Interview with Melanie

Safety and security are so important to the healing process.

If you are experiencing emotional distress or other mental health concerns after a disaster, the Disaster Distress Helpline is here for you 24/7/365:


Or, text 1-800-985-5990.
For TTY Users: Use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 1-800-985-5990

For many people, nothing quite compares to the comfort of petting and cuddling a friendly dog. That’s why Melanie Dunbar and Gus are such a great duo—they’re a certified dog-and-handler team trained to respond to natural disasters and human-caused crises. Two weeks after an elementary school shooting, the pair visited classrooms to help reestablish a sense of safety and security. And while the students loved Gus, what Melanie remembers is a teacher who sat down on the floor with him between classes. She was finally able to express all the emotions she had controlled while trying to be a source of strength for her students.