Therapy dogs flown in to help and comfort Las Vegas shooting victims

Mythili Sampathkumar
A therapy dog comforts someone in the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history in Las Vegas, Nevada: Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs/Facebook

A group of therapy dogs have been flown in to help survivors and victims’ family and friends in Las Vegas.

The Illinois-based Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs are making the rounds to area hospitals, hotels, visits with first responders, schools, and a candlelight vigil.

Stephen Paddock gunned down 58 and injured almost 500 people attending the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on the Las Vegas strip the night of 1 October. Paddock opened fire from his 32nd floor room of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino before turning a gun on himself.

"The great thing about the dogs, they're unconditional, confidential and safe,” Tim Hetzner, president and CEO of Lutheran Church Charities and founder of the K-9 Comfort Dog Ministries told ABC News.

Mr Hetzner said getting people to open up about the trauma - whether through tears or words - they have experienced is “a key part of the healing process.”

"Dogs have an incredible sense of when somebody is hurting," he said about the adorable healing companions.

The organisation attempts to respond within 24 hours with “boots and paws” to any tragedy like the Las Vegas mass murder.

Now 123 dogs in 23 states have climbed into the laps and arms of people needing help in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook mass shooting, Orlando’s Pulse nightclub mass murder, the Dallas, Texas shootings, and disaster response for Hurricane Harvey.

"We only go where we are invited and we never charge who we serve,” Mr Hetzner said.