Our deepest condolences

By Gregory Castle

All of us at Best Friends are deeply saddened by the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that has shocked the nation and the world. The mission of Best Friends is driven by compassion, and our compassion is not limited to a concern over the suffering of animals, especially when it comes to the innocent among us who deserve nothing but our protection and kindness.

Amid all the sadness, it is worth taking note of K-9 Parish Comfort Dogs from Lutheran Church Charities in Illinois and Indiana. The Comfort Dogs initiative, an inspired twist on the long-standing hospital-visiting therapy dog programs, started in 2008 in Chicago. The dogs were originally intended to merely provide a distraction for students caught up in a traumatic event at Northern Illinois University, but when the dogs were so effective at providing comfort and consolation, a new mission was born. The dogs, all golden retrievers, are selected and trained for their role after the manner of service dog qualification and training. It has been scientifically proved that simply stroking a pet helps to moderate such vital signs as blood pressure, relieve stressors and promote relaxation. Science aside, the calming presence of a friendly canine of whatever breed or mix is a reassuring reference point for “normal” when the rest of the world seems to have come loose from its mooring for those directly affected by tragedy, such as took place in Connecticut.

I cannot imagine the grief and pain that engulfs the community of Newtown. On behalf of Best Friends, I send our heartfelt condolences and our prayers to all those impacted by this terrible tragedy and by the senseless violence and killing that afflict our nation’s communities every day. We are heartened by the universal outpouring of support and by the thoughtfulness and compassion of those behind the K-9 Parish Comfort Dogs. To find out more about them, visit their website.

Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society