LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Deploy For a Second Week to El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio to Bring Comfort and Love to Individuals After Two Tragic Mass Shootings in 24 Hours
Following invites to respond to two mass shootings that took place on August 3 and 4 – Texas and Ohio – Lutheran Church Charities deployed teams to both locations for a second week. LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry deployment teams continue to bring comfort to devastated individuals, families, and the first responders who serve their community.
El Paso, Texas Update
On Saturday, August 3, a large crowd of back-to-school shoppers at Walmart in El Paso, Texas, were suddenly running for their lives when a young male began shooting throughout the store. The number who have died as a result of the shooting has increased to 22 individuals. Over 26 wounded, with victims ranging from 4 months to 82 years old.
Lutheran Church Charities continues working in El Paso through Rev. Roger Schlechte, Rocky Mountain District President, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS), Rev. Dr. Karl Heimer, Pastor & CEO of Ysleta Lutheran Mission Human Care and Pastor Stephen Heimer from Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church both in the heart of El Paso, Texas. Rev. Martin Danner from Bethany Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas, continued his support of our teams. By Monday, August 5, K-9 Ministry teams were on the ground throughout the community serving with the love of Christ.
Janice Marut, Regional Director for the LCC K-9 Ministry Southwest Region returned to lead the second deployment efforts. Six LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs and sixteen LCC K-9 Ministry Team Members, that included Pastor Stephen Heimer of Zion Lutheran in El Paso, Texas, spent time with doctors, nurses, patients and visitors at Del Sol Medical Center where victims were transported following the incident.
The teams attended vigils, 9-1-1 Dispatch Center that fielded the emergency calls that poured in the day of the shooting, Emergency Operations Center, Family Assistance Center, City Hall workers, and the Mayor of El Paso, just to name a few.
Pastor Heimer accompanied team members as they connected and prayed with individuals and family members. Luz Soto, Director of Christian Education (DCE) at Ysleta Lutheran Mission also joined us in our visits and served as our interpreter, many times leading prayer with those that were served.
We heard many amazing stories of survival, of those who did not survive, or those who gave their lives to save others, such as these:
While at the Del Sol Medical Center, the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs showed love to Rosa, who was injured during the Walmart shooting. Her sister, who was with her, didn’t survive and her daughter was injured and recovering at a different hospital. They also spent time with Rosa before she attended her sister’s visitation.
Dayton, Ohio Update
On Sunday, August 4 at 1:00am, people in the heart of Dayton’s Oregon District were waiting in line to enter Ned Peppers Bar when a man approached and began shooting. Nine people were killed, over 27 wounded, and countless numbers traumatized as they ran to escape an unimaginable attack on their lives.
Lutheran Church Charities was invited by Rev. Kevin Wilson, Ohio District President, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS), Rev. Mark Carlson from Emmanuel in Kettering, Ohio and John Pyron, Manager for Disaster Services with Lutheran Social Services. Rev. Phil Esala, former pastor at Emmanuel, also assisted with deployment arrangements.
Nancy Borders, Top Dog for Anna Comfort Dog at Trinity – Toledo, Ohio returned to lead the second deployment efforts. Seven LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs traveled to Dayton, Ohio this past week to comfort those mourning the loss of loved ones and fearing the unknown following the mass shooting in the community’s Oregon District.
Teams spent time with doctors, nurses, patients and visitors at Miami Valley Hospital’s Premier Health where victims were transported following the incident; residents at St. Vincent de Paul’s Gateway Shelters; concertgoers at a nearby outdoor concert venue; dispatchers at the Montgomery County Regional 9-1-1 Dispatch Center who fielded the emergency calls that poured in on that fateful night; and business owners, community members, and visitors in the Oregon District. Here are just a few stories from their time in Dayton:
While at the hospital, a CareFlight nurse who had worked an exhausting full night shift was able to visit with the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs the following morning. She later commented through social media that the “[t]hese Goldens were the most docile, calm dogs [she had] ever met.” She appreciated that our teams were there and felt that everyone was “incredibly kind and supportive, and [came to] town to give what healing they could to a community who’s hurting.”
In the Oregon District, the mother of a 1-year-old toddler approached the Comfort Dog teams in front of store front riddled with bullet holes. She expressed her gratitude for the presence of the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs and their showing of love and support. She went on to explain that her little girl’s father had been killed by the shooter that night. Her toddler was the apple of her father’s eye, and her little one would never grow to know him but for that first year of her life. This mother was truly touched and felt blessed to know that someone cared enough to simply be there.
We don’t know why these mass shootings took place, but we know that comfort is needed at this time to help people heal! Help us to be the presence of Jesus Christ to the El Paso and Dayton communities.
LCC never goes where we are not invited and the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs NEVER charge those we serve. We pick up all of our travel, hotel, and meals costs. We also always put Boots and Paws on the ground within 24 hours (often less) from the time we get the invite.
Please help LCC as we bring the Mercy, Compassion, Presence and Proclamation of Jesus Christ to those who are suffering and in need. Together, we can be the Hands, Feet and Presence of Jesus Christ to frightened communities.
Please support us by prayer and if you are so moved, help us with travel expenses.