By Naomi Nix
Source Chicago Tribune
Money, personnel and supplies have poured into Oklahoma from across the country after Monday’s devastating tornado, but one Chicago-area church is sending a different kind of assistance — a team of golden retrievers.
Lutheran Church Charities, which runs the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry, on Tuesday sent about six dogs and nine trained handlers from Illinois and Indiana to Oklahoma City. Two dogs and two handlers that worked in Joplin, Mo., after the 2011 tornado in that town will join them there.
The Addison-based nonprofit plans to make the dogs available for anyone affected by the tornado who wants to pet them and talk about their experience.
“They are good listeners and help people process loss and tragedy,” said the charity’s president, Tim Hetzner.
The dogs and their handlers were invited to help by Messiah Lutheran Church in Oklahoma City. The church plans to take the Illinois volunteers to The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City.
The group will also visit shelters in Moore, Okla., where most of the tornado’s damage occurred, and the University of Oklahoma’s campus in Norman in an effort to help tornado victims and first responders directly, said Messiah Lutheran Church’s senior pastor Mark Muenchow.
“People will still be fairly shellshocked,” Muenchow said. “The dogs kind of take their focus off of it for a moment and allow them to kind of share.”
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