In the wake of the U.S.'s worst mass shooting in history, dogs are helping victims heal.
The Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) Comfort Dogs are veterans to tragedy's aftermath. They flew to Connecticut to comfort students following the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. They supported victims suffering from the Boston Marathon bombing.
Now, this K9 Unit is lending helping paws to victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, the country's mass shooting that tragically charts history books with the highest death toll.
A total of 12 dogs and 20 humans made the journey Monday morning, a little more than 24 hours after the gunfire went off.
"Your blood pressure goes down when you pet a dog, you feel more comfortable, and people end up talking," Hetzner said. "They're good listeners, they're non-judgmental, they're confidential."
Hailing from Northbrook, Illinois, LCC Comfort Dogs is a non-profit organization. Launched in 2008, the program then employed only four dogs.
Now, more than 100 dogs are members of the K9 response team covering 23 U.S. states. Like most emotional support animals, the pups enter into a stringent training regimen before hitting the road to do relief work.
Their duty in Orlando is currently focused on visiting locations for those directly victimized, including the wounded at hospitals and first responders.
Canine travel is afforded through generous donation efforts in part by local community-goers but largely by strangers who understand the joy a furry friend can bring a broken heart. You, too, can donate with one easy click.
All photos via LCC Comfort Dogs/Facebook.