In the wake of the horrible massacre that left 20 children and 8 adults dead in Newton, Connecticut, there is another problem of dealing with the trauma those still alive are facing. One Lutheran group, Lutheran Church Charities of Addison, Illinois, is sending in the dogs … literally. The group has sent eight golden retrievers to the area to help comfort the survivors at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Lutheran Church Charities President Tim Hetzner told the Chicago Tribune that the dogs “are nonjudgmental. They are loving. They are accepting of anyone.”
Lynn Buhrke, 66, who is a handler for a female golden retriever name Chewie, told the Associated Press:
“The dogs have become the bridge. People just sit down and talk to you.”
The dogs have already made an appearance sunday at the Christ the King Lutheran Church. The church held funerals for two of the victims that day.
Hetzner told the Associated Press:
“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 Lutheran group started the comfort dog program in 2008. At that time, there was a shooting at Northern Illinois University that killed five students. The dogs were able to provide a healthy distraction to those students who were overcome with grief.
The dog program started with a handful of dogs, but now the Lutheran Church Charities boasts of more than 60 dogs on their website.