Fidos For Freedom reaches out in aftermath of Columbia mall shooting

Sometimes when people are grieving or scared, there aren't really any words that can change that. That's where Fidos For Freedom comes in.
"We're here. We're all going to support you. Our four legged friends, our two legged friends, we're all here for you," Debbie Epley said.
Epley, who has a therapy dog of her own, says they are trained to calm fears and relieve stress.
That is what volunteers at Fidos For Freedom are hoping for first responders, shoppers, mall employees and anyone else impacted by the shooting at Columbia mall.
"Science shows that peoples blood pressure is actually lowered and endorphins are released when they're petting a dog or around a dog and I think it's the unconditional love that they give," Sandra Ball, Volunteer Director of Client Services at Fidos For Freedom, said.
"I know for me if I was there, I wouldn't want to go back for a while. I watched one of the accounts saying how they were locked in the back room and were scared to come out. I couldn't imagine what that feels like. I just can't imagine," said Epley.
That's why she will have her dog Hailey back at the Fidos location in Laurel on Saturday. She is just one of many volunteering her time and her fidos'.
"What's great about the dogs wherever we take them, for just a little while people can stop thinking about whatever is tragic in their lives and just spend a few minutes petting a dog," Another volunteer, Helene Ross, said.
"Even the police officers. I mean, I can't imagine what they saw. That's somebody's child laying there dead. That's just absolutely devastating," Epley added.
It's not only the volunteers wanting to give back. Fidos For Freedom as an organization is connected to the Columbia mall. Some of their therapy and service dogs train there.
"When I heard about it, my heart went out to the victims and the people that were there and the whole community because it was a very big shock and it still is. A lot of people grieving and I know what our dogs can do."
Fidos For Freedom, which you can find at 1200 Sandy Spring Road in Laurel, will be open to the public from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1.
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