For families who have lost everything in a tornado, the process of putting their lives back together feels overwhelming. On December 10, 2021, a violent tornado moved across Western Kentucky, causing catastrophic damage in several towns, including Dawson Springs. There to bring a bit of comfort and encouragement to the people impacted were Janel Zuranski, DVM, medical director at VCA Boulder Terrace Animal Hospital, and her trained crisis response dog, Gossamer.

VCA Voice first reported on the incredible volunteer work Dr. Zuranski and Gossamer do this past summer, when the duo traveled to Surfside, Florida to help people affected by the devastating 12-story condo collapse that killed 98 people and left survivors homeless. 

Dr. Zuranski and Gossamer volunteer with HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response, an organization dedicated to providing comfort and encouragement through animal-assisted support to individuals affected by crises and disasters. They have been a canine-handler team with HOPE since 2019.
Dr. Zuranski describes the scene upon her arrival in Dawson Springs as “Inconceivable, widespread destruction.” Yet despite the losses residents suffered, she says that the people they met were focused on gratitude – for their lives, and for the outpouring of support from volunteers and organizations from all over the country. 

“We met a family who had been trapped in a basement and had to send a child out through a small opening in the debris to get help,” she says. “What they went through is unimaginable. With guidance from a Red Cross volunteer, Gossamer was able to help all of those emotions come out so the family could begin to heal.”

In addition to the time they dedicate to volunteering, Dr. Zuranski and Gossamer regularly attend ongoing training sessions like the mass transit disaster drill recently held in Petosky, MI. 

Thank you, Dr. Zuranski and Gossamer, for giving your personal time to help others in crisis!