After the most deadly mass shooting in US history which left 50 people dead and 53 injured in a single night of brutality, shock and grief has spread throughout Orlando.
In an effort to help ease the pain of survivors and family members of the victims, the Lutheran Church Charities sent 11 of their Comfort Dogs and 19 volunteers to the city in Florida.
The charity explained the function of Comfort Dogs on its official Facebook page:
A dog is a friend who brings a calming influence, allowing people to open up their hearts and receive help for what is affecting them.
These are trained Comfort Dogs for Lutheran Church Charities. They interact with people at churches, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, events and in disaster situations.
The dogs are visiting counselling centres and police stations, and were present during the emotional vigil held at Dr Phillips Centre for the Performing Arts on Monday evening, a stone’s throw away from Pulse nightclub – where the shooting had occurred.
The LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs deployment to Orlando following the tragic shootings… to provide comfort to all those who are hurting and suffering.
Please keep everyone affected in your prayers.
President of the Lutheran Church Charities, Tim Hetzner told indy100:
It has been a very emotional deployment as everyone was affected in some way or another with what has happened [and] we have been with families and with victims and first responders.
Grief, loss, shock, feeling their city was violated. The Comfort Dogs have been a tremendous help for people to be able to pet them and to relax and talk about what they are feeling.
Many hugs and tears and people hugging the dogs.
This isn't the first time golden retrievers were used to give relief to people after a national trauma.
In 2013, Comfort Dogs were used to help victims in the aftermath of the Boston bombing.Picture: LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs/Facebook
According to a study by Goldsmith’s University, not only are dogs naturally empathetic, but they are also one of few animals who are not xenophobic – they do not fear strangers.