Comfort dogs sent to help victims, first responders in Orlando club shooting

Comfort dogs sent to help victims, first responders in Orlando club shooting

CHICAGO (WLS/CNN) - A team of comfort dogs from Chicago are in Orlando to help the city deal with the tragedy of Sunday's deadly nightclub shooting.

The shooting left 49 people killed and dozens wounded when a gunman opened fire inside a gay night club.

Organizers in Chicago are hoping a group of Golden Retrievers will bring a bit of sunshine to the broken hearts in Orlando.

The first group headed out of O'Hare around 6 a.m. Monday. The Lutheran charity Comfort Dogs asked to come to Orlando and work through a local Lutheran church that has an outreach program for the LGBT community.

The team, which includes 19 people traveling with the 12 comfort dogs, will be working in local hospitals with the injured victims and the first responders.

"Dogs are great listeners, nonjudgmental and uh we're just there to help people and listen to people as they talk about what they've gone through, the fears that they have and part of the healing process is just letting people talk," Lutheran Church Charities President Tim Hetzner.

A second group left later in the morning.

The crew plans to stay in Florida until Monday, their mission to help as many people as they can while they are there.

"The dogs, when you pet the dogs they pick up the emotions of the people petting them, and its the same way when you're talking to people and your hearing their stories, you just uh feel for them," Hetzner said.

Hetzner said the dogs could stay in Orlando longer depending on the community's needs.

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