The events of last Friday—we’re speaking, of course, about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary—are beyond horrific. No amount of counseling, time, or distance will ever be able to fill the holes left by the tremendous loss of innocent life. For the victims’ families, friends, and loved ones, Saturday was the first day of a much darker life.
But while a nation grieves, the deceased are buried, and viewpoints are polarized, the town of Newtown, Connecticut, must somehow find a way to cope. And they’ll be getting help doing so from our four legged friends, the K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry at Lutheran Church Charities.
These specially trained dogs are deployed to disasters zones around the country to help comfort mourners and victims. They’ve been doing so since 2008 when a gunman killed five students at Northern Illinois University.
Tim Hetzner, president of Lutheran Church Charities, told the Chicago Tribune, “Dogs are non-judgmental. They are loving. They are accepting of anyone.” Hetzner continues, saying, “It creates the atmosphere for people to share.”
Dog handler Lynn Burhrke describes the dogs as “a bridge.” “People just sit down and talk to you,” Burhke says.
There are currently seven dogs in Newtown. Each dog has a business card, Facebook, twitter, and email address to allow people to remain in contact.
Of course, these dogs cannot change what happened, but in these darkest of days, they provide a little bit of light. And right now, the residents of Newton can use all the light they can get.
- Carlos Delgado, CBS Radio