Comfort dogs provide solace after church massacre

Comfort dogs provide solace after church massacre
Posted at 5:47 AM, Nov 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-11 01:16:08-05

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX (KABB/WOAI/CNN) - A friendly face and a paw to hold helps when your world is shattered.

"Dogs have a sense. They know when somebody's hurting. They edge over to somebody if they sense it," said Tim Hetzner of K-9 Comfort Dogs. "Each crisis is different. But grief is grief."

They travel the country - to natural disasters, mass shootings, anywhere comfort is needed. This week, they are in Sutherland Springs.

"Many times, they'll talk to the dog before they talk to someone else," Hetzner said.

The dogs have spent time with victim's families, survivors and law enforcement.

"Y'all touched our daughter. She's a first responder," one person said. "She smiled for the first time since Sunday, and I just wanted to say thank you very much."

Talking is part of the healing process, and as any dog lover knows, they're great listeners.

"We worked with a family yesterday that was not in the church, but they're right across from the church, and they're the first ones that made the 911 call. And so the shooter was in their yard. She made the statement: 'We sit on our porch. This was always my peaceful area. And that's not the case any more,'" Hetzner said.

The comfort dogs and their loyal handlers nudged their way into people's hearts after the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012.

"We still have a dog in that school every day," Hetzner said.

It will take time for Sutherland Springs to heal, but if a child feels safe again, even just for a moment, it's a job well done by these creature comforters.

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