Harper Launches Comfort Dogs Handling Certificate

In the dark days following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., a community in mourning found hope in the form of some furry counselors known as Comfort Dogs. A delegation of these specially trained golden retrievers provided a calming influence for first responders and victims injured in the Boston Marathon bombings. Closer to home, Comfort Dogs were sent to tornado-ravaged Washington, Ill., and pay regular visits to local hospitals, veterans’ facilities and children’s advocacy centers.

To help meet widespread requests for the service, Addison-based Lutheran Church Charities, which developed and operates the K-9 program, has partnered with Harper College to offer a Comfort Dog Handling certificate. The certificate will enable qualified volunteers the opportunity to handle trained Comfort Dogs at local, national and international disaster sites.

“The demand has increased as time goes on,” said Rich Martin, co-director of the K-9 Comfort Dogs Ministry at Lutheran Church Charities. “Our dogs can help with separation anxiety and get people into a calmer state. In Washington, we had hundreds of newly homeless kids who just laid on the dogs. It really helped them to open up.”

Students will begin the certificate program Jan. 27 with an eight-week online course taught by veterinarian technician Deanne Pawlisch. A hands-on practicum with some of LCC’s dogs will follow April 11-12. For more information about enrolling, visit harpercollege.edu/ce.

Press contact: Kim Pohl, Media Relations Manager, 847.925.6159