A group of trained therapy dogs traveled to Las Vegas last week to comfort Las Vegas residents after the deadly shooting that occurred there.
After Las Vegas endured a horrifying mass shooting that killed 58 people and injured more than 500, a group of therapy dogs came to comfort those who were left shocked and grieving.
The LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs are a pack of Golden Retrievers who have been trained to be therapy dogs. The is affiliated with the Lutheran Church Charities, and dogs are stationed all around the country in 23 states.
These dogs go to where they are most needed for the comfort they offer – hospitals, nursing homes, and crisis scenes. They have a fund set up for travel expenses so that they can go wherever they are needed, despite the distance.
In crisis situations, the dogs show up to offer people comfort and assist in the grieving process.
Where Do These Dogs Come From?
Tim Hetzner is the president of Lutheran Church Charities, and started the program in 2008. According to Hetzner, dogs offer comfort humans can’t by showing unconditional love. He joked, saying they’re great listeners who keep confidentiality and don’t take notes.
The organization only deploys dogs when they are invited to do so, and their services are completely free.
Hetzner says they try to put “boots and paws on the ground” within 24 hours of any invitations they receive. As of last Tuesday, there were a total of 19 comfort dogs in Las Vegas. Dogs had traveled there from Arizona, Missouri, California, Illinois, Nebraska, and Colorado.
The dogs are mainly concentrating their efforts at the Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, which is where most of the victims are being treated. Additionally, the dogs are visiting places like police stations and children’s schools.
The sorts of victims that remain after a tragedy like this are numerous. There are people who are physically injured and those grieving deaths. But in addition, there are those suffering something called Survivor’s Guilt, and others suffering from PTSD after witnessing horrific events.
How the Program Works
The comfort dogs are all Golden Retrievers. They begin training for this role when they are 8 weeks old. Training lasts 4-5 months. They live in the home of a caregiver, and are deployed to job sites as needed.
While they are hardworking dogs, they are afforded breaks. This ensures that they themselves do not become emotionally overwhelmed or exhausted, which would defeat the entire purpose of their role.
You can follow all the latest and greatest work being done by these comfort canines by liking their Facebook page.
If you’d like to donate to their travel expense fund, you can do so here.