Sandy Hook shooting: comfort dogs deployed to Newtown (VIDEO) 

Last Friday, December 14th was a very dark day in the U.S. A massacre took place at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut where 20 young children and 6 adults lost their lives. The nation is still in shock and mourning but for the parents and townspeople of Newtown there are no words to describe the pain and grief they are feeling.

In order to help with this tremendous loss, the Lutheran Church Charities sent a team of golden retrievers over 800 miles from Chicago to Newtown, Conn. Their purpose was to comfort those affected by the massacre over the long, very sad weekend.

Ten dogs were sent for residents of the town to pet on Saturday evening while they could talk to the dogs handler, Tim Hetzner. As he recalled the situation he said, "Dogs are non-judgmental. They are loving. They are accepting of anyone. It creates the atmosphere for people to share. You could tell which ones …were really struggling with their grief because they were quiet. They would pet the dog, and they would just be quiet."

The dogs were even helpful in comforting those who did not have children in the Sandy Hook Elementary School. The dogs first stop on Sunday was at Christ the King Lutheran Church where the two funerals were held today. The dogs are also planned to be with Sandy Hook students for after-school activities. Hertzner reflected on this by stating that, ”There are a lot of people that are hurting. It's good for the children to have something that is not the shooting."

The comfort-dog initiative was started in 2008 at Northern Illinois University after a gunman killed five students. A group of dog caretakers associated with Lutheran Church Charities took the dogs to the campus in hopes of providing a distraction to the student community. The trip was so appreciated that weeks later the students petitioned university leadership to bring the comfort dogs back to campus.

Since that time, the initiative has grown from a handful of dogs in the Chicago area to 60 dogs in six different states. The dogs have traveled across the nation to comfort people in the aftermath of major tragedies such as, Hurricane Sandy, and other disasters.

With Christmas just ahead in the coming days, the nation's attention will soon turn to celebrating the holiday with family and friends. This will not be the case for those affected in Newtown. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who were touched by this horrific tragedy and we are thankful that these comfort dogs were there for them to hold and hug as they struggle to go on without their loved ones.

VIDEO Comfort dogs help ease the pain of tragedy in Newtown

Responses to "Team of comfort dogs sent to Newtown, Connecticut to help residents cope with the shooting"

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think its wonderful and comforting for the families or anyone else who needs to pour your heart out to the one thing who loves you unconditionally.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful idea

  3. Anonymous says:

    so beautiful and inspirational

  4. Anonymous says:

    Perfect...the wordless warm love and comfort of a dog goes straight into the heart like a soothing balm.

  5. All the outpouring of love and compassion from soooo many revives the spirit and gives hope that there really are more good people then bad in the world. Thanks for the comfort dogs and the handlers who brought them, I'm sure they made a difference in the lives of these distraught people.
    God bless.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is perfect. There is no other perfect love and no other unconditional love than that of this beautiful canine.

  7. Anonymous says:

    What a beautiful thing to see.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    C'est une idée merveilleuse puisque le contact avec un animal est appaisant et on peut lui dire toute notre peine et notre rage, il ne jugera pas et il va toujours nous aimer. Les enfants touchés par les retombées de cette tragédie pourront relaxer un petit moment en caressant un animal.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Oh oui !!! Nos amis les animaux savent nous réconforter !!! Oh oui !!! Je confirme !Cela ne peut que faire un peu de bien à tous ces pauvres petits bouts de chous !!! et à leur(s)parent(s) aussi !!! j'en suis sûre !

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