Fidelco Pups Bring Joy to the Site of Tragedy

Barb Jamison

For 50 years, the dogs of Fidelco have been helping blind men and women regain their independence. On Friday morning, they were providing comfort at the site of the tragic mass shooting three weeks ago in Manchester.

Hartford Distributors invited the foundation, and some of its adorable German Shepherd puppies, to come and meet employees.

It's been nearly three weeks since Omar Thornton opened fire at the business, killing eight co-workers and shooting two others before taking his own life. Since the tragedy, countless acts of kindness have been pouring in from people across the country.

Ross Hollander, president of Hartford Distributors, said the company has been involved with Fidelco and this was terrific pet therapy.

"It's nice to have them come back and help our family heal here," Hollander said. "They are wonderful."  

Jack Hayward, director of communications for Fidelco, said HDI employees thought the animals could help bring smiles to people at the facility.

"It's good. I think a puppy can warm anybody's heart," said Joe McCue, of Cromwell, an HDI employee. 

Eliot Rissman, the CEO of the Fidelco Dog Foundation, said he is glad his organization can be there to help.

"It's been a rough time and this brings a little bit of smiles to everyone's faces and this makes it all worthwhile," he said.

Since people began to reach out to help the victims, Teamsters Local 1035 has received about $180,000 in donations since the massacre, mostly from strangers.

"A 93-year-old woman sent a $5 bill with a note saying, this is all I have for August. If I can come up with any more next month, I'll send it. Please give it to the victims' families," Chris Roos, of the union, said,

A luncheon held on Friday at the Texas Roadhouse in Manchester will also benefit the families of the shooting victims. Click here  for more information, or to find out how you can help.

Fidelco also relies on donations. It takes $45,000 to raise a guide dog, and there is no cost to the clients.

So far, Fidelco has placed 1,300 guide dogs nationwide, with 300 right here in Connecticut. 

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