REDLAND (CBSMiami) — A 15-year-old freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was presented with a special gift Friday to help her deal with the emotional pain from the deadly mass shooting at her high school in February.
Kellie Wanamaker was given a 7-month-old German Shepherd service dog by Tony Guzman, owner of Metro-Dade K-9 Services in the Redland.
“Just the comfort alone of having an emotional support dog will be a great help,” Guzman said. “All dogs are great companions that help us deal with anxiety and stress. This particular dog comes from a great lineage of service dogs and I’m hoping it will help her heal.”
Kellie was on the Parkland campus and lost friends on the day of the shooting. She admits getting back to her normal life has not been easy and she’s taking it one day at a time.
“I was in the freshman building on the first floor so I heard everything from the first shot to the last,” she said. “There’s a lot going on right now so I do think the service dog will be a big help.”
When Guzman heard Kellie could use an emotional support dog, he stepped in, donating the German Shepherd named Chicco. Kellie was also awarded honorary K-9 member badges by local police departments. After a few minutes with her new dog, she decided to change his name from Chicco to Evo, the name of the SWAT team officer who entered her classroom on February 14th and took her and her classmates to safety.
“It was scary when I first saw Evo because he was in the SWAT gear and in work mode,” she said. “But I met him later and he was really sweet. I wanted a name that was strong and had meaning so I’m naming my dog Evo.”
As she walked off, Kellie planned to form a bond with her new Evo that will last a lifetime.