Therapy dogs help Texas school children cope after explosion

Texas Therapy DogsAfter a blast at a Texas fertilizer plant destroyed West Intermediate School, therapy dogs were on hand to help the students transition back to school at a new location. The explosion occurred after children had been sent home for the day. Counselors and donations are also helping the children and parents cope. The Dallas Morning News (free content)

By Eva-Marie Ayala The Dallas Morning News

West youngsters returned to school today, chasing each other on the play ground and skipping into borrowed portable buildings, as the town tried to find some semblance of daily routine.

The front office staff at West Elementary School juggled phone calls from parents and well wishes wanting to send supplies and donations.

“It was very much like the first day of school here with mommas and daddies hugging their babies a little longer when they dropped them off,” superintendent Marty Crawford said.

The elementary school has about 300 more students than usual as it accommodates classes from the intermediate school that was destroyed in the deadly blast.

Some parents and volunteers walked children to class. Each class had at least one counselor in the room to help address student needs if necessary.

“They are having kids draw how they feel when they may be having trouble expressing themselves,” Crawford said.

Donations and supplies have poured in from districts, churches and groups across Texas.

Therapy dogs were on hand, received with giggles and warm strokes from students.

“This one is the softest,” said kindergartener Lesley as she petted Moses.

Despite the sadness, many found solace that the deadly blast did not happen just a few hours earlier when hundreds of children would filled nearby classrooms.

West Intermediate School, built just across the railroad tracks from the fertilizer plant less than half a mile away, is a complete loss. The adjacent middle school and the high school have structural damage.

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