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Therapy Dogs Comforting Families Of People Still Missing After Oakland Warehouse Fire

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) -- Therapy dogs are being brought in to help the families of people still missing after a fire ripped through a warehouse in Oakland, killing 33 people.

At a sheriff's substation in Oakland, yesterday's mission was family support. Sunday, it was about organization.

"We're talking to our own Red Cross people about what's going on and how to staff and what we need to do," Deborah Harper with the American Red Cross said.

A slow but steady stream of Red Cross workers, county disaster managers and first responders came and went.  They were there to coordinate efforts to deal with the trauma of those still living.

"There has been some assistance given to the people that were living in the facility. That was yesterday, and we will provide condolence services for the families as that all plays out," American Red Cross Health Services Coordinator Colleen Sasso said.

As the slow recovery effort continues, families and friends must endure the agony of having to wait for the news no one wants to hear.

"I think it's the uncertainty at this point.  I think maybe perhaps families want to be able to have some kind of closure to what's going on, but it's just the difficulty of being able to access that site," Fr. Jayson Landeza with the Oakland Fire Dept Chaplain said.

Continuing Coverage: Deadly Oakland Warehouse Fire

And, while many came to lend a hand, the softest touch came from those with paws.  The Valley Humane Society in Pleasanton arrived to offer the services of therapy dogs to those who have seen or heard more than they can handle.

"They seem to know who needs comfort and who doesn't.  And they'll just walk up to someone and lean against them. It absolutely provides care, comfort, calming, and they don't even know they need it a lot of the times, which is why the dogs are so valuable," Denise Laberee with the Valley Humane Society said.

For those who are searching, and those who must wait, the need for care, comfort and calming has never been greater.

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