FLDS Children See Dogs For the First Time in Their Lives

WOAI Radio News, San Antonio/August 17, 2008

Dogs are not allowed and never have been on the FLDS compound. So most kids had never seen one and many have never even seen a picture of a dog.

But when some of the children were housed at a San Antonio shelter they requested to finally see a four footed friend.

The call for a dog went to Pasty Swendson, a former TV personality, now owner of Pennies from Heaven, a dog therapy service.

The fragile meeting was arranged. After all, the kids didn’t know a dog from a gopher. Swendson says she brought her Golden Retriever, two smaller dogs and her Irish Wolfhound.

"When we entered the room, the kids, boys and girls, showed restraint. But soon enough they became excited and the first dog they went to was the 135 pound Wolfhound."

Swendson says the children were well behaved, spelled aloud the dogs names, examined their fur, toes and faces and expressed amazement at them.

The 90 minute "therapy session" was over too soon says Swendson. "I could tell one little boy did not want to go back. He wanted to stay there with us."

"It was bittersweet seeing those kids go," she says.

"Harder still was knowing that they would return to the compound, without the happiness of having a pet."

"Maybe one day they’ll have the opportunity."

A follow up visit never materialized. By then the children had been returned to the compound.

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