- A team of comfort dogs was sent to Texas to offer support to those impacted by the recent school shooting.
- The trained dogs travel across the country to provide comfort to anyone impacted by tragedies, including mass shootings.
- The Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) K-9 Ministries have seen an increase in requests for comfort dogs in the last two years.
A team of eight golden retrievers was sent to Texas on Wednesday, a day after the Uvalde elementary school shooting.
The comfort dogs are part of Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) K-9 Ministries, a K-9 unit that travels across the U.S. to provide comfort and support to anyone impacted by tragedies such as mass shootings.
The trained dogs provide a unique form of support, according to LCCs’ K-9 crisis response coordinator Bonnie Fear.
Eight LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs and Hearts of Mercy & Compassion Deploy in Less Than 24 Hours to Mass Shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.— LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs (@K9ComfortDogs) May 25, 2022
Please pray for Uvalde, TX and our teams as they travel today.
Donate to K-9 Travel Fund: https://t.co/jswtDc1mm0#uvaldeTX pic.twitter.com/JuQTgYzRyB
The dogs attended a mass vigil at the fairgrounds in Uvalde on Wednesday night and were directed to the civic center in Uvalde where school staff, teachers, and families were gathering, Bonnie said. They also coordinated with first responders, the school staff, families, and any churches that requested the comfort dogs.
Bonnie said some of the dogs have already responded to past school shootings.
“Cubby has been to all the mass shootings and crises with me since 2016,” Bonnie told “Good Morning America,” including the Oxford High School shooting last November in Oxford, Michigan.
“We just see a lot of shock, crying, [people who are] distraught, especially coming in the day after a mass shooting,” Bonnie shared. “People are not ready to process or listen or answer questions. So we just show up with the dogs.”
Bonnie said they listen if they talk but they remain silent. “We let the dogs connect with people and they can express their feelings at that time and we’re not counselors, so we are just present, standing with them in their sorrow.”
LCCs’ president and CEO Tim Hetzner told “GMA” about an unforgettable comfort dog visit.
Hetzner said, “I remember one situation in Sandy Hook, four days after the shooting. We were at a community center and this couple was there with their young boy. … I had a dog named Howe at that time.”
“Howe looked up at the boy, got up, walked over to the boy, rolled into his legs and the boy came down on top of him. They just laid there. After about 10 minutes, the boy lifted up Howe’s ear and told him everything that happened in that classroom. Parents started crying because it was the first time the boy had talked in four days. First time and it was a dog.”
Hetzner said the group’s K-9 unit has grown from four dogs in 2008 to over 130 dogs in 27 states.
The dogs will be in Uvalde until at least Monday. They will be given breaks to recuperate in between working shifts, Hetzner said.
Source: Good Morning America