STRONGSVILLE, Ohio (WJW) – They are the best of friends during playtime and in times of crisis.

Meet Zodiac, a 1-year-old Akita and Murphy, a 2-year-old border collie.

Both will soon be traveling to New York to help comfort the families and loved ones of the 10 victims killed in last Saturday’s racially charged shooting inside a Buffalo grocery store.

The mission is part of the nationwide non-profit called Crisis Response Canines. Zodiac’s owner Shirley Graziano got the call to deploy two days after the tragedy.

“We talk to the first responders that are police and fire. And then we ask around in the community for information on if there’s vigils and we make sure that we’re welcome,” said Graziano.

When Zodiac travels to Buffalo this Friday, it will be the second tragedy he’s responded to in five months. Extensive training to be able to handle all types of situations is essential.

WJW photo

CRC dogs, no matter the breed or size, must be at least a year old and screened for temperament before starting the rigorous, year-long training.

This team has received certifications from emergency response organizations, including FEMA.

Last December, the canine team was called to duty after a high-school shooting in Michigan where four students were killed.

Murphy’s owner Diane Eyring says, “We had a lot of people say when we were in Michigan, you folks came all the way from Ohio to do this? We responded, ‘yes, we did!’ We were there for them.”

Graziano adding, “…sometimes the kids, even if they don’t know it, they’re just standing there and just stroking the dog and it’s just helping them feel calmer.”

And now, yet another crucial mission, nearly 200-miles away.

“It really just softens the mood for the moment, even if it’s just a moment in time,” Graziano said.

CRC is based in New Jersey. The Ohio-based team will spend three days in Buffalo.