Golden Retrievers Help Newtown Mourners Deal With Their Grief
There is nothing anyone can do to take away the pain the community of Newtown, Connecticut is going through right now. But a charity group from Illinois is using man's best friend to provide a little comfort to those who are mourning the loss of life from last Friday's mass school shooting.
Lutheran Church Charities in Addison, Ill. have sent eight "comfort dogs" on a 800 mile journey to Newtown. The Golden Retrievers are being deployed at funerals and memorial services and are also being sent to after-school activities for surviving Sandy Hook elementary school students.
According to the charity's president Tim Hetzner, the dogs seem to be helpful to those who are overwhelmed with sadness.
“Dogs are non-judgmental. They are loving. They are accepting of anyone,” Hetzner said. “It creates the atmosphere for people to share.”
The canines' first stop was at a funeral for two children on Sunday. "You could tell which ones...were really struggling with their grief because they were quiet," Hetzner explained. "They would pet the dog, and they would just be quiet."
Lutheran Church Charities came up with idea of comfort dogs after a 2008 mass shooting incident at Northern Illinois University. Since then the initiative has grown to 60 dogs, and they try to reach out whenever there is a large scale tragedy.
Take a look at some photos of the comfort pups in action below.