Service Dogs Fly to Orlando Offering Comfort to Victims

It’s in our darkest times that we seek a hand to hold. Fortunately for many in Orlando, they have warm paws of comfort to reach toward as well.

A dozen comfort dogs from seven different states were already on their way to Orlando hours after the news of the June 12 terrorist attack was reported. Coordinated by LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs, the canines previously assisted in comforting victims of the Sandy Hook and Boston Marathon bombing tragedies.

“We were invited by a church in Orlando, near where the attack took place,” LCC president Tim Hetzner told The Dodo. “On Sunday, we put a dispatch out to our dogs across the country to see who could come out, and after making flight reservations, here we are. We try to always respond in 24 hours after being invited.”

The dogs reportedly visited more than 300 people the first day they arrived, June 13.

“Everyone down here has been affected by this,” Hetzner said. “Everyone loves petting the dogs. It helps them talk. When you pet a dog, your blood pressure goes down and you relax. When you relax, there’s a greater chance that you’ll want to talk about what you’ve been through.”

The event, prompted by Omar Mateen’s homophobic contempt, is the largest killing of “LGBT people in the western world since the Holocaust,” according to the Guardian.

Hetzner said the volunteers and dogs will be working with the victims, families, first responders, and the whole community to start the process of healing.

K9 units are certainly nothing new to police forces and militaries. Incredibly brave and talented dogs have been trained do everything from bomb detection and drug sniffing to 911 dispatch and ivory sniffing to stop poaching. Read more about a Colorado town’s first victim assistance dog in this story.