Published on June 23rd, 2013 | by NS0
LCC comfort dogs travel to provide unconditional support
Man’s Best Friend Continues To Be A Service To Us All In Times Of Need And Desperate Times.
By Carol L. MacCabe
The golden retrievers of Lutheran Church Charities’ K-9 Dog Ministry have helped ease the pain in tornado-ravaged Joplin, Mo., and Moore, Okla.
At Newtown, Conn., the dogs helped bring peace to the community after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. Many of those injured, as well as first-responders, at the Boston Marathon bombings have had a friendly visit by the dogs.
Locally, the dogs visited flood victims in Marseilles, near Starved Rock State Park in LaSalle County. They visit schools, churches, retirement homes — anywhere people need the compassionate, unconditional love of a dog.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Addison-based LCC procured three flat-bottom boats in order to rescue people and their pets.
“That’s when we made the first connection between people and their pets,” said Dona Martin, co-director of K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry, “and it’s a strong bond.”
The organization started with a couple of golden retrievers, who were already trained, and began responding to other disasters. After the shooting at Northern Illinois University in 2008, the group realized there were many hurting people, not only those in a disaster.
The small group began visiting schools, chapel services, nursing homes and hospitals. Today, there are 35 K-9 Comfort Dogs in eight states.
Martin and her husband, Richard, who live in Lake Barrington, are both dog handlers for LLC. They spent more than five weeks in Connecticut after the Sandy Hook tragedy. K-9 Comfort Dogs and handlers arrived the day after the school shooting.
“For many of the children, the dogs were the only reason they wanted to go back to school,” Martin said.
Each week, six to 10 dogs were rotated in and out of Newtown, working out of the middle school and high school. A typical day would begin at 6:15 a.m. at the high school. The handlers and dogs would greet the teachers and staff upon arrival. They then greeted students. Then the team would split; part would work with counselors at the school, while others went to Sandy Hook.
“We became a part of that community,” Martin said. “We were invited to fundraisers and events for all the families.”
After the Boston Marathon bombings, six to eight dogs were deployed and arrived the day after the crime. Working through a local church, handlers and dogs saw many of the people affected by visiting hospitals, first responders and fire departments. Teams also visited with students on college campuses in the area.
“One of the ladies who had several surgeries on her legs took her first steps with two of our dogs, one on each side,” Martin said.
For Complete Story, visit: http://www.dailyherald.com