History of the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry
In 2005, Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) responded to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, rescuing homeowners and pets. After seeing the powerful bond between humans and their dogs, LCC determined dogs could play a valuable role in helping others. After shootings on the campus of Northern Illinois University in 2008, LCC was invited to campus to bring comfort to the students. Because they brought dogs, they were the only ministry group allowed complete access to the campus. More students waited in line to see the dogs than to to see counselors! After the experience at NIU, Tim Hetzner, President of LCC, moved forward with acquiring K-9 Comfort Dogs that could be placed in congregations. Initially, Comfort Dogs were placed in Lutheran churches in Northern Illinois (where LCC is located). In 2010, LCC continued to work with breeders and trainers, and the K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry grew in number of dogs and visibility in the LCMS. In 2011, the Comfort Dog Ministry expanded, with dogs being placed in Joplin, Missouri (following the tornado there), and in Iowa. In 2012-13, the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry responded to Super Storm Sandy, Sandy Hook School, Boston Marathon Bombings, West Texas, Oklahoma tornadoes, the deaths of 19 Granite Mtn. Hotshots in Prescott, Arizona, the floods in Colorado, and the tornado in Washington, Illinois. The media covered the ministry done in many of these places, making more people around the country aware of the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry. More and more dogs were trained and places in Lutheran churches and schools around the country. There are currently over 130 dogs serving in 22 states.