Entries in GMA (3)


Comfort Dogs Treated to Some Comforts of Their Own

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In the midst of tragedy, it's often the simplest acts that make the biggest difference.

Take what happened in Newtown, Conn., in December after a school shooting took the lives of 26 students and teachers, leaving the town rattled in a horror that few could have imagined.

As residents remained shocked, a group of golden retrievers showed up from Chicago to bring comfort to school children and townspeople alike.

The dogs, part of the Lutheran Church Charities' K-9 Comfort Dogs Ministry, gave residents a glimmer of comfort and a second of joy they could not get elsewhere, just by wagging their tails and being petted.

"The dogs really helped us," one high school student from Newtown said.

Wearing their signature "Please Pet Me" blue signs, the 60-plus army of golden retrievers flock to communities like Newtown where lives have been upended by tragic events. The dogs have touched people from Newtown to Joplin, Mo., the site of a devastating tornado. Most recently, the dogs trekked to Boston in the wake of the marathon bombings.

"I got to know the dogs a few days after the bombing," one bombing victim in Boston said.  "They are incredible.  They feel what you feel."

"My house got destroyed by the tornado and once I saw them, they made me really happy," a tornado survivor in Joplin said.  "Dogs are my best friends and they just really comforted me."

There's scientific evidence that dogs have a healing power around patients and people who've experienced traumatic events, said Dr. Emma Raizman, a pediatrician at the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital.

Being around dogs helps decrease patients' stress by prompting the release of oxytocin, which is the hormone that bonds mothers to babies. Studies have shown that patients who are around dogs have increased levels of dopamine - the "happy" neurotransmitter that helps relieve depression - as well as endorphins and adrenaline.

The man behind the K-9 Comfort Dogs Ministry, Tim Hetzner, says he has witnessed this firsthand.
"The comments we get all the time are thank you for bringing some joy," Hetzner, president of Lutheran Church Charities, said.  "And then we will see kids come up and smile."

The K-9 Comfort Dogs and their hero owners got a chance to smile themselves Wednesday when they were honored on ABC’s Good Morning America  as part of GMA's "You're Not Dreaming!" series.  The dogs, joined on GMA by Hetzner and their handler, Jen Marr, were surprised with a package of spa and grooming treats for the dogs and spa gift certificates from Bliss for their owners.

In addition, Hertz stepped up to help the ministry with one of its biggest expenses, transportation to get the dogs from crisis to crisis.  Hertz announced on GMA they are providing K-9 Comfort Dogs Ministry with a free van for one year.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Exclusive: Dominique Strauss-Kahn's Accuser Speaks Out

In an exclusive interview ABC News' Robin Roberts speaks with the hotel employee who alleges she was sexually assaulted by former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. (ABC News)(NEW YORK) -- The hotel maid who has accused former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of trying to sexually assault her in a New York City hotel room is ending her public silence in an exclusive broadcast interview with ABC News.

"I want justice. I want him to go to jail," Nafissatou Diallo told ABC's Robin Roberts. "I want him to know that there is some places you cannot use your money, you cannot use your power when you do something like this."

Strauss-Kahn may not go to jail. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is considering whether to drop the charges amid "concerns" he has said he has about Diallo's credibility.

Diallo was asked about the instances that caused prosecutors to "reassess the strength of the case." Diallo acknowledged "mistakes," but also said they should not preclude Vance's office from going forward.

"God is my witness I'm telling the truth. From my heart. God Knows that. And he knows that," she said.

The woman whose accusations upended the politics of France and the workings of one of the world's most prominent banking institutions was unequivocal in her assertion that Strauss-Kahn attacked her inside room 2806 at the Sofitel Hotel.

"I never want to be in public but I have no choice," Diallo told ABC News, adding "Now, I have to be in public. I have to, for myself. I have to tell the truth."

She reenacted moments of the alleged assault, at one point kneeling on the floor to describe how she says Strauss-Kahn tried to force her to commit a sex act.

"I turned my head, he comes to me, and grab my breasts," she said. "I said, 'Stop! Stop! I don't want to lose my job.'"

Diallo said she did not know who Strauss-Kahn was prior to the encounter May 14. Once she learned his identity she said she thought she would be killed.

"And then they say he's going to be the next president of France. And I say, oh my God! And I was crying. I said, 'they're gonna kill me.'"

Until now Diallo's identity had been protected. She said she is coming forward now to defend her story and her reputation, which has been besmirched by tabloid headlines calling her a prostitute.

"I'm not," Diallo said.

Defense attorneys for Strauss-Kahn categorically deny any criminal wrongdoing occurred. They have suggested what happened inside the hotel suite was consensual and, in a statement, they called Diallo's interview an "unseemly circus."

"Its obvious purpose is to inflame public opinion against a defendant in a pending criminal case," William Taylor and Benjamin Brafman wrote in a statement.

The Manhattan District Attorney's office declined to comment on the interview.

"This is a pending criminal case," DA spokeswoman Erin Duggan said. "To protect the integrity of the criminal justice system, the rights of the victim, and the rights of the accused, we will not discuss the facts or evidence in what remains an ongoing investigation."

The interview took place in the Manhattan office of Diallo's attorney, Kenneth Thompson. He told ABC News he plans to file a civil lawsuit against Strauss-Kahn on his client's behalf within days.

"There's no mystery. There's no hiding the fact. This man attempted to rape her," Thompson said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Panda Cow: New Breed of Cow Born in Miniature Farm

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CAMPION, Colo.) -- An extraordinary New Year's Eve newborn brought joy to a northern Colorado family when Chris and Pam Jessen welcomed a rare panda cow to their farm.

The panda cow -- an uncommon cross-breed -- was worked on for 44 years by Richard Gradwohl, a Covington, Wash., farmer who used eight different miniature cows to create the new breed. His work brought about Ben, who is the latest addition to the Jessen's Campion, Colo., farm which houses other miniature cattle and a miniature kangaroo.

Ben is one of only 25 panda cows in the world, which are typically kept as pets or show animals.

"Miniatures range from about 44 inches tall on their tail side, on their hox, but he can get up to 1000 pounds though -- so a pretty good-sized animal," Chris Jessen told ABC News.

Miniature cattle are valued at approximately $25,000, and the Jessens say they plan to eventually sell Ben.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio