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July 15, 2016

After Dallas Shooting, Trained Comfort Dogs Offer Emotional Support

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Written by: ecodigmadmn

Dogs are helping bring a bit of solace to those affected by the tragedy in Dallas. 

Trained comfort dogs from nonprofit Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) recently traveled to Texas to visit officers, colleagues and victims’ families following the shooting. 

LCC President Tim Hetzner told the Huffington Post that the canines can serve as a positive outlet for individuals going through difficult times. 

“They’re good listeners, they’re confidential, they don’t take notes, they’re nonjudgmental, and show unconditional love,” he said. “That’s what makes the dogs safe for people to talk to.”

The canines, who’ve provided their services to those affected by past tragedies including the Orlando shooting and the Boston bombing, visited the area’s police stations and memorials, comforting grieving attendees. Hetzner mentioned the dogs also dropped into local media outlets to help those covering the heavy news. 

After interacting with the dogs, many displayed a noticeable shift in attitude, Hetzner said. 

“You can see it physically that many people are walking around rather stoic. And when they see the dogs, they start talking,” he said. “Sometimes they talk about their own dog or other things and in that process, they start talking about how they’ve been affected by [the tragedy]. And a key part of healing is to be able to talk about it.” 

For others, the petting the dogs acted as a small reprieve from dealing with the aftermath of the shooting. 

“For a few moments, they were able to talk about something that wasn’t about the shooting. Their life has been so consumed by that.” 

While Hetzner said the dogs will be taking a break, however will likely be returning to visit officers, colleagues, and others when the emotions surrounding the shooting “really starts settling in.” 

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