Therapy dogs warm hearts at warming station

News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — As Birmingham braces for the bitter cold, the Boutwell Auditorium is opening its doors for anyone who needs a warm place to spend the night.

Thursday night was the first of three that the auditorium will serve as a warming station.

While hundreds of people come to get a blanket and a hot meal, they can also come for a special kind of companionship.

Lannie Newman, a chaplain with the Birmingham Police Department, loves her two dogs, Kodi and Casey.

This winter, she got the idea to bring the dogs to Boutwell’s warming station.

“(Casey) is a crisis response dog, (Kodi) is training,” Newman explained. “In my mind, if it’s going to be below freezing and you’re homeless and on the street, that’s a crisis.”

At first, Newman said she was not sure if the dogs were up for the task, but she quickly learned that spreading cheer seems to be their best trick.

“It brings a smile to my face,” said Jonathan Riggs, who often stays at the warming station on cold nights, while petting Kodi.

“If we have a bad day, nothing goes wrong with a dog,” said Amanda Moore, who was staying at the warming station.

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