Comfort Dogs Bring Support to Belvidere Students

By: Stephen Johnson
By: Stephen Johnson

BELVIDERE (WIFR) -- The car crash that took the lives of Belvidere North High School students Brenda Gutierrez and Thalia Arredondo continues to send shocks throughout our community.

Schools across the Stateline have come forward showing their support for the victims, and now man’s best friend is becoming another shoulder to lean on.

"We know that dogs have a tendency to relax people, help people feel comfortable and help people share”, says Lutheran Church Charities president Tim Hetzner.

Volunteers with Immanuel Lutheran Church in Belvidere are working with Lutheran Church Charities, who is supplying K-9 comfort dogs to the Belvidere School District. The four legged friends are helping students get through the loss of their classmates.

"We had one boy who just hugged that dog and ended up laying, literally on one of our dogs. So here was this high school boy laying with the dog. But that's what he needed”, says Hetzner.

The kids weren't the only ones impacted by the comfort dogs. Their visit also touched volunteers who were there in support of the students.

Keith Richard of Immanuel Lutheran Church says, "Members of our congregation and staff were there and they said it impacted them as much as it did the students."

The dogs travel throughout the nation and are deployed during tragedies. Lutheran Church Charities says they would be happy to bring the dogs back to Belvidere again, knowing the animals will aide in helping the community get through this difficult time.

Hetzner says, "The dogs are all confidential, they don't take notes, they're great counselors."

Lutheran Church Charities have set up a fundraiser helping support all three families affected by Friday’s crash. To donate, visit their website at or call them toll free at 866-455-6466.

A fund is also set up at Harris Bank for the victim’s families. The account is under the name “Perfect Two”.

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