Comfort dogs sent to Orlando to help grieving community following mass gay club shooting
Comfort dogs are being flown into Orlando, Florida, to provide support to the mourning community after a mass shooting at a gay club killed 49 people and injured another 53.
The dogs have been flown to Florida from various US states, and aim to offer emotional support to those affected by the shooting.
The canines appeared at various events, including vigils, and were sent to the hospitals and the homes of grieving friends and family of those lost or in critical condition after the attack.
Dogs went to Florida from as far as Iowa, Texas, South Carolina, Illinois, Nebraska, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
Emotional support was offered by dogs following the Sando Hook Elementary School massacre after the shooting there.
The dogs were deployed after Chigaco’s Lutheran Church Charities was invited to a local church in Orlando.
“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,” LCC president Tim Hetzner told The Dodo.
“Everyone down here has been affected by this. 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.
“We’re here working with the victims, families and first responders – and the whole community. We’ll also be visiting with the staff at the club where the attack happened. They are taking this very rough. We’re keeping busy.”
The LCC Phoebe Comfort Dog page posted: “Our prayers for the people of Orlando have found us now preparing to leave and go to be with those who are hurting and affected.”
49 people were killed and 53 injured on Sunday in the shocking terrorist hate crime attack, which saw a gunman open fire inside The Pulse gay bar in Orlando, Florida.
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ISIS has since claimed responsibility for the attack, which was perpetrated by US citizen Omar Mateen. The majority of the victims were Latino.
In a statement, President Obama mourned the victims of the homophobic hate crime attack and called for greater restrictions on arms sales.
In response, Republican nominee Donald Trump said Obama should resign for failing to rally against Islam in his comments.
The attack has been condemned by American Muslim leaders, who addressed ISIS in saying: “You do not speak for us.”
But millions of people around the world have showed solidarity with the victims of the shooting and the community in Orlando,