NEWTOWN, Conn. (WTNH) – Wednesday, Dec. 14, marks 10 years since 20 first-graders and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“The day after the shooting, everyone in town, we felt helpless,” said Ann Marie Cioffi.
The answer was staring right back at Cioffi.
“Within a few minutes, we had a gathering at my house of about 8 or 10 people and their dogs,” Cioffi said.
That was when the Newtown Strong Therapy Dogs formed, led by Cioffi.
“My son lost friends in Sandy Hook,” said Jennifer Franke, assistant director. “I remember saying to both of my boys, ‘we live in Newtown for a reason.’”
Her reason was to train one of the 40 or so dogs to join the mission, to be there for Newtown, bring comfort through canines that day and every day since.
“I just knew that our town would need therapy dogs for a very long time,” Cioffi said. “They have, and they do.”
A family of furry paws and their handlers formed amid tragedy. They now visit whenever they’re called upon at schools, at funerals, and for happy occasions.
“It’s great to share him and share that with the world, which is what we all need to share; love and peace in this world,” said Kim Calbo.
Spreading peace, comfort and joy one smile and snuggle at a time.