CHICAGO (CBS) — Comfort Dogs from Lutheran Church Charities in Addison have gone to Prescott Valley, Ariz., as the community mourns the deaths of 19 firefighters in a wildfire.
WBBM Newsradio’s Brandis Friedman reports it has been a busy year for the team of Golden Retrievers and their handlers, having to deploy to Boston, West Texas, Oklahoma and Newtown, Conn.
Now they’re headed to central Arizona, where 19 firefighters died battling a wildfire in Yarnell on Sunday.
“It’s emotional, because you’re dealing with a lot of people that are hurting,” said LCC President Tim Hetzner, who runs the Comfort Dogs program.
On this trip, seven Comfort Dogs teams will visit fire stations in the area, and families displaced from their homes by the wildfire.
Hetzner said, because they happen every year, Prescott Valley residents are used to damage from wildfires, but not the pain of losing firefighters.
“They’ve been in a drought for 10 years, and these fires have been going on, but it’s tragic to have 19 from one department,” he said.
The teams will stay at least through Sunday, the same day the firefighters’ remains will return from Phoenix.