Comfort Dogs Provide Hope and Encouragement After Tragedy in Orlando

Lutheran Church Charities(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- "Comfort dogs" are headed down to Orlando to provide encouragement and hope to those affected by the tragic shooting this weekend.

The Lutheran Church Charities Comfort Dogs have been at the scene of countless acts of violence from the Sandy Hook Shooting to the Boston Marathon Bombing.

Twelve dogs and 20 volunteers headed down to Orlando early Monday morning where they have spent the day providing warmth and relief to the Orlando community, officials said.

"They help people relax and calm down," Tim Hetzner, president of the LCC Comfort Dogs, told ABC News Monday.

"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."

The program started in August 2008 with four dogs, Hetzner said, and now the group has expanded to include more than 100 dogs in 23 states.

The dogs go through an intensive training program with volunteers before they are sent out as comforters, Hetzner said.

In Orlando, the comfort dogs are working with local hospitals and first responders, hoping to provide some hope to injured victims and all members of the community affected by the violence.

Travel for the dogs and volunteers is crowd-funded by donations from people looking for ways to help out those affected in Orlando.

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Celebrities, politicians post tributes to comedian, activist Dick Gregory

Celebrities, politicians post tributes to comedian, activist Dick GregoryBrent N. Clarke/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The death of comedian and activist Dick Gregory at age 84 on Saturday prompted a flood of tributes on Twitter from celebrities, activists and others.

Jane Sanders recalled how her husband -- Bernie Sanders, Democratic senator from Vermont and former presidential candidate -- once spent a night in jail with Gregory after protesting segregation in Chicago.

RIP Dick Gregory, a good & brave man. He & @SenSanders spent the night in jail together for protesting Chicago segregated schools in the 60s https://t.co/pYpMU34eOx

— Jane O'Meara Sanders (@janeosanders) August 20, 2017

Democratic National Committee vice chairman Keith Ellison posted a photo of himself with Gregory. "Thank you for giving yourself to all of us," he wrote.

Dick Gregory, may God Bless you and Keep you. Thank you for giving yourself to all of us. pic.twitter.com/Z1dLIvYuBn

— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) August 20, 2017

Activist and writer Shaun King posted pictures of Gregory as a young man. "Rest in power, good sir," King wrote.

Because many of you probably only knew Dick Gregory as an older man, I wanted to show you these young images.

Rest in power good sir. pic.twitter.com/ZayInokcaJ

— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) August 20, 2017

Singer John Legend called Gregory a "groundbreaker in comedy and a voice for justice."

Dick Gregory lived an amazing, revolutionary life. A groundbreaker in comedy and a voice for justice. RIP

— John Legend (@johnlegend) August 20, 2017

Some people posted excerpts from Gregory's memoir, "Callous on My Soul," such as when he wrote about a waitress in the South telling him that they "don't serve colored people."

White lady: We don't serve colored people here.

Dick Gregory: I don't eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.

RIP Mr. Gregory😰 pic.twitter.com/t8dnuRJhBC

— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) August 20, 2017

Here is a sample of some other tweets paying tribute to Gregory and lamenting his passing.

Comedian Dick Gregory always told it like it is. Our laughter was fuel to fight for justice in an unjust world. RIP 1932-2017 pic.twitter.com/wpbdEkvny1

— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) August 20, 2017

Marching w/ King. Sitting w/ Ali. Paving the way for our comedic greats. All while fighting for us.

Rest well Dick Gregory. #blkcreatives pic.twitter.com/GsfRTjHSuy

— #blkcreatives netwrk (@blkcreatives) August 20, 2017

He taught us how to laugh. He taught us how to fight.He taught us how to live.Dick Gregory was committed to justice.I miss him already. #RIP pic.twitter.com/3CfpM2O17D

— Rev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) August 20, 2017

Rest In Peace to civil rights icon Dick Gregory. An inspiration. A hero. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/kIzeYMNjor

— Ricky Davila (@TheRickyDavila) August 20, 2017


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