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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California anticipates much-needed rain this week after catastrophic wildfires

California anticipates much-needed rain this week after catastrophic wildfiresGoogle Earth(NEW YORK) -- Ravaged by a slew of deadly wildfires in recent days, northern California is set to get a bit of relief this week in the form of rain.

A storm system is expected to move over the Pacific Northwest later this week and the trailing cold front will most likely bring some much-needed rain to northern California between Thursday and Friday, according to ABC meteorologists.

"It will rain a bit but not enough to fully douse the blazes," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said in a statement Tuesday. "The biggest advantage to firefighters will be the increase in humidity and lower temperatures."

Massive wildfires have charred more than 245,000 acres of land statewide in the past week, killing at least 41 people and destroying thousands of homes, according to authorities.

Firefighters were battling about a dozen wildfires as of late Tuesday evening, although most of them were more than halfway contained.

“The weather today will be warm with low humidity, which will continue to challenge firefighters, but only light winds are forecast,” CalFire said in a statement on Tuesday. “A chance of precipitation is expected to arrive later in the week, bringing relief from the dry conditions.”

The northern parts of the Golden State, which has bared the brunt of the fire damage, is forecast to see an influx of cloudy, cooler and wetter weather later in the week, according to AccuWeather.

Spotter from Los Osos was reporting sprinkles from this high level moisture. Dry at lower levels. Rain evaporates. Also called "Virga" #cawx pic.twitter.com/sgxj3bdXZQ

— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) October 18, 2017

However, a return of dry air, heat and areas of gusty winds could once again raise the wildfire danger early next week, meteorologists said.

Separately, a band of moisture, referred to as Atmospheric River by weather experts, is currently stretching between Asia and North America. It’s expected to bring several storm systems into many parts of the Pacific Northwest through the rest of the week.

The first of these storms have already hit the Pacific Northwest with wind gusts of between 40 and 74 mph.

A number of wind warnings and flood watches are in effect in the western and northern parts of the U.S. ahead of the storm.

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