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Comfort dogs travel 800-miles to give support and love to Newtown residents after school tragedy

P8010053_thumb By Tamara | December 17, 2012 | Comments (2)

comfort dog gives support to children in Newtown

A group of comfort dogs from Addison, Chicago arrived in Newtown, Connecticut  on Saturday evening to comfort those affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that occured on Friday and claimed the lives of 27 people.

The 10 Golden Retrievers are part of the K-9 Parish Comfort Dogs program of Lutheran Church Charities. Newton residents can visit with the dogs and their handlers to talk or simply to pet them.

Chewie the Comfort Dog is giving comfort to residents after a school shooting in Newtown Connecticut

"Dogs are non-judgmental. They are loving. They are accepting of anyone," Tim Hetzner, president of the organization, told the Chicago Tribune. "It creates the atmosphere for people to share."

The comfort dogs began in 2008 after a gunman killed five students at Northern Illinois University. Since then the program has grown to 60 dogs in six states. The dogs comfort people in hospitals and nursing homes and also at natural disasters like hurricanes and tornados. This week they are giving comfort to anyone that approaches.

LCC Comfort Dogs and their handlers who are in Newtown Connecticut to comfort those affected by the Sandy Hook school shooting

Their program aptly describes the dogs' effect: "A dog is a friend who brings a calming influence, allowing people to open up their hearts and receive help for what is affecting them."

LCC Comfort Dogs and their handlers who are in Newtown Connecticut to comfort those affected by the Sandy Hook school shootingLynn Buhrke is on hand with her dog Chewie. Lynn said, "The dogs have become the bridge. People just sit down and talk to you."

Since arriving in Newton, the dogs are helping children and adults alike. "I asked (one man) how he is doing. He just kind of teared up and said: 'This year, I've lost five loved ones and now this happened,'" Tim said. "There are a lot of people that are hurting," he said. It's "good for the children to have something that is not the shooting."

On Monday the dogs plan to be with Sandy Hook Students for after-school activities.

CNN's Don Lemon reported on the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs in Newton (video below).


View more articles in: Community News

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Comments on this Article

What a wonderful thing for these people to travel this distance to comfort this grieving community! Dogs are always such a comfort anyway- I know my dog is very comforting to me! Thanks to all the people who made this happen. I hope you will all find some peace, if just for a moment, in bonding with these sweet dogs. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
From a dog lovers perspective, we already know the calming and healing ability of our dogs. We have already seen dogs used in hospitals, and even in universities during exams, to relieve stress. Interacting with a dog can take us away, if only for a moment, from the hardships we can endure in life. They ground us in life's simplest of beauties. Employing comfort dogs to help people trying to cope with such a tragedy, is a very healthy thing to do. I would like to take a moment to offer my sincere heartfelt condolences to the families who lost their children and loved ones to this heinous crime. I wish that there was something I could say to wash away your grievous pain. All I can do is stand with you, and add my tears to yours.
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