BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After a five-month span that witnessed a quarter of a million people get a Covid-19 shot, the doors of the vaccination site at M&T Bank Stadium will be locked until football season.

However, on Tuesday, therapy dogs were brought in to boost the morale of patients and staff. Loki is a therapy dog at UMMC. She and her Mom, Caroline Benzel, have donated healing kits for frontline staff during the worst days.

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Benzel still remembers when she got the dog that lifted the spirits of thousands. “I called them as a joke asking if they ever wanted to give one away and she was like, “Perfect, Caroline. You won’t mess this up.”


Benzel acquired Loki the very next day, the same day she was accepted to Medical School at the University of Maryland.

“I think dogs are just something that makes people think of home who may have been raised with animals. It’s comforting and dogs just have that unconditional love,” she said.

Hope has been working with the 175th wing of the Maryland Air National Guard since she was 14 weeks old. In her spare time, she loves a good head rub.

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Captain Brandon Williams found Therapy Dog Lobo on the streets of Texas. He helps to relax people who are afraid of needles during vaccinations.

“I turned him into a therapy dog because I’m actually a social worker,” Williams said. “I was in training for that and took him to some of the sights I was at, shelters for the homeless and the wounded warrior program as well.”

Anxiety and Depression Association of America said interacting with animals can decrease stress in humans. The vaccination site was run by four partners including the University of Maryland Medical System and the Department of Health.

Belly rubs and smiles have made this day go by faster and with these doors closing, we’re panting that much closer for Baltimore to rise once again.

“I wanted to be there in every aspect and if that meant coming in during my off hours with my dog to make somebody feel better because that’s the only thing that could help them, then I wanted to be that person,” Benzel added.

The site will have a closing ceremony Thursday night before they close the place down the next day. Their hours are 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

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Officials told WJZ this entire journey was a mission well done.