Therapy dogs comfort Las Vegas victims as massacre remains mystery
(Reuters) – Therapy dogs and mental health volunteers are among the resources available in Las Vegas to comfort those affected by last week’s mass shooting, as concertgoers on Monday continued to pick up belongings left behind while fleeing a hail of bullets rained down from a high-rise hotel suite.
Investigators remain largely baffled by what could have motivated Stephen Paddock, a well-off retiree with no criminal record, to spray an outdoor concert crowd with gunfire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort before taking his own life.
Mental health experts said at a news conference on Monday that people exposed to trauma can expect fatigue, irritability, confusion and sadness. Tom Hlenski, a volunteer for the American Red Cross, said a return to routine, as well as rest, can help lessen anxiety.
“Chicken soup still works,” he said, saying family meals could help overcome the impact. “It’s OK to laugh in the home. It’s OK to tell jokes. It’s OK to get back into a normal rhythm. And yes it’s OK to be upset and to cry and to have sleepless nights and to have bad dreams. That’s part of responding to stress.”
Hlenski said he was one of about 30 volunteers stationed at the family assistance center created following the attack. A number of organizations that train comfort dogs have also dispatched canine counselors to the city.
Doves are released for each victim of the Route 91 Harvest music festival mass shooting at City Hall plaza in Las Vegas, Nevada. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
Meanwhile, county officials said they were continuing to help people retrieve their property from the concert site, with 99 people having picked up their items as of Monday morning.
The amount of possessions, including phones, purses and backpacks, is so large that federal agents have divided the crime scene into four massive quadrants and will release items from one at a time. [nL2N1MK01B]
Despite the intense media interest in Paddock’s life, the circumstances that led to his massacre remain unclear.
CNN reported on Monday that Paddock testified under oath that he kept a doctor on retainer to treat his anxiety with prescription medication, though he said he had no mental health issues or additions.
The details emerged from a 2013 deposition Paddock gave as part of his unsuccessful lawsuit against the Cosmopolitan Hotel after he slipped on the hotel’s floor.
He told lawyers he wagered as much as $ 1 million in a single night while playing 14 hours of video poker a day at his peak in 2006, according to the cable news channel.
Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Writing by Joseph Ax; Editing by Lisa Shumaker