"> Charity’s Comfort Dogs Travel to Sites of Pain and Horror – Ministry Watch

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Charity’s Comfort Dogs Travel to Sites of Pain and Horror

When tragedies strike and people are hurting, Lutheran Church Charities’ K-9 Ministries deploys its teams of cute and cuddly comfort dogs to relieve stress and get people talking about their trauma.

Credit: Lutheran Church Charities.

Altogether, Lutheran Church Charities, a ministry of the Lutheran Church ‐ Missouri Synod, employs over 130 purebred Golden Retrievers in 27 states, with three training facilities in Illinois for dogs and their 800 volunteer handlers, each of whom receives 20 hours of training.

They’ve deployed to sites of tragedies such as: 

The Pulse Nightclub Mass Shooting, Orlando, Florida, 2016.

First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs and Las Vegas, Nevada, 2017.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida, 2018.

A Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, 2019.

Wildfires in California, 2020.

The Champlain Towers South condominium collapse, Surfside, Florida, 2021.

And, most recently, to Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, 2022.

The dogs receive over 2,000 hours of training so they can understand the commands of their handlers, respect the private space of individuals (such as people who are hospitalized), and be receptive to touch and affection from children and adults they are unfamiliar with.

When they’re not traveling to disaster sites, the dogs serve in LCC’s Military Ministry to service members, veterans, and their families, and its Police Ministry to officers and their families.

Tim Hetzner, LCC’s president and CEO for the past 21 years, says the dogs are a powerful way to carry out LCC’s mission of sharing the mercy, compassion, presence, and proclamation of Jesus Christ to those who are suffering and in need.

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Steve Rabey

Steve Rabey is a veteran author and journalist who has published more than 50 books and 2,000 articles about religion, spirituality, and culture. He was an instructor at Fuller and Denver seminaries and the U.S. Air Force Academy. He and his wife Lois live in Colorado.

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