When tragedy strikes, count on the K-9 Parish Comfort Dogs to be close behind.
A team of three therapy dogs has been deployed to Boston from their home base near Chicago to help comfort the injured and grieving over the fatal marathon bombings.
Two other dogs were dispatched from Newown, Conn. where they have been aiding students at Sandy Hook Elementary School since the shootings there in December.
The dogs, part of Lutheran Church Charities in Addison, Ill., will be stationed at First Lutheran Church, and available through Sunday for anyone that wants to come give a dog a hug. (More on the positive effects of cuddling with animals here) The church is located near the marathon finish line and the site of the bombings.
The dogs, all of them golden retrievers, receive extensive training to provide therapy to people in all kinds of stressful situations. They also are expected to visit Boston hospitals where more than 100 victims are being treated.
“I would imagine their effect will be the same as it was in Newtown,” Tim Hetzner, president of Lutheran Church Charities, told Today.com. “They bring a calming effect to people and help them process the various emotions that they go through in times like this.”
The program was launched in 2008 after a gunman killed five students at Northern Illinois University and now totals 60 dogs in six states.
When they are not traveling across the country to help victims of national tragedies, the dogs work with the Chicago area community, most recently comforting children involved in a bus crash. They also visit nursing homes and hospitals.
The dogs have business cards, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and email to stay connected with those they comfort..
Photo/Lutheran Church Charities