22 years after 9/11, local counselor recalls how therapy dog helped families

22 years after 9/11, local counselor recalls how therapy dog helped families

GREEN, Ohio — The world as many of us knew it changed forever 22 years ago when nearly 3,000 people were killed in the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania.

That time brings back difficult and emotional memories for Lori Morgan, a local school counselor, but she also recalls the outpouring of compassion displayed by so many people in the days following the tragedy.

Bob Jones | News 5

Less than a week after 9/11, Morgan traveled to New York City as part of the Ohio Crisis Response Team. Bob Denton, the founder of the Victim Assistance Program in Summit County, was also part of the crisis response team.

In education for 28 years, Morgan has almost always had a dog in her classroom or office. Currently, she works as a school counselor at Green Intermediate School.

In 2001, Morgan brought a therapy dog named Kayla, a Golden Retriever Lab mix, to provide comfort to hundreds of people.


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“She was just about 75 pounds of just soft, sweet wonderfulness,” Morgan said.

Morgan said therapy dogs at major disaster sites were not common 22 years ago, but Kayla provided tremendous support for victims, families and first responders at an assistance center in New Jersey.


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“Sometimes they ended up on the ground with their arms fully around her, just sobbing or crying into her fur,” Morgan said.

She also spent time at Ground Zero and said the images of the devastation will always be seared into her memory.


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“The sheer enormity of the disaster, the sheer enormity of the buildings and the pile,” she said.

Morgan was already dealing with her own personal tragedy before 9/11.

She was pregnant with twins, but one of them— a girl— died in utero at five months.


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At seven months, her doctor gave her a mission to go to New York City because she felt a calling to help. She instantly felt a connection to the families who were grieving because of her own loss.

“I remember feeling a little bit more empathy and kinship with some of those people who knew that their loved one had passed away,” Morgan said.

Morgan’s son, Aiden, was born two months later. He is now 21-years-old.

Morgan acknowledged the traumatic time took a toll on counselors and other volunteers, but she was able to focus on “the giving part of it.”

“Being able to comfort people in the time of need, you kind of get into that zone, and it’s really about the person that you’re working with and not so much about yourself,” she said.

Morgan now has a Canine Companion dog named Shakespeare who provides comfort to students.

“He’s always here for the students. He helps a lot of students mitigate behaviors, also helps a lot with anxiety, social, emotional and mental health issues that students may have,” she said.

Morgan said it feels odd that many young adults have no memory of that fateful day, including some teachers at her school, but she hopes people make an effort to never forget what happened and how many lives were changed.

“For me, I think it’s really about keeping that in the front of our minds and hearts about what did occur and sharing that with people that weren’t here to experience that.”


Bob Jones | News 5

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