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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  • by Dave Location: Rockford on Mar 1, 2012 at 03:10 PM
    This is a terrible thing but the whole dog approach is a bit ridiculous. Sorry. It had to be said.
    • reply
      by Mitch on Mar 21, 2012 at 02:09 PM in reply to Dave
      Pets have a way of getting to the heart that people can not. Ask anyone who has experienced it. Pet therapy has a way of connecting to people that we can not and LPC's.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 29, 2012 at 05:49 PM
    This is a tragedy, no doubt. However, no one is perfect. Social media took this out of control. Let the families grieve with CLOSE family and friends as the way they wanted it to be.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 29, 2012 at 09:12 AM
    I wish the families and friends of the victims lots of comfort and support but i think to close the school during school hours for this is not right.People who were not affected by this tragedy and did not know the girls are now brought into the situation.Being left confused on how to feel emotionally when they didn't know the girls.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 28, 2012 at 09:44 PM
    Well said, my friend.
  • by Anonymous Location: Belvidere on Feb 28, 2012 at 09:12 PM
    Not to take away from the girls who lost their lives in this horrible accident but the fund set up by LLC will also provide help to the victims in the other car, one of which is still hospitalized. They need our community's support and love as well.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Feb 29, 2012 at 09:05 AM in reply to Anonymous
      thank you for acknowledging the other party involved in the accident.It is very sad 2 innocent people had to die and others hurt but when the media makes the community aware of incidents they leave out a big part of the story.Like the well being of the others and how they will cope.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Mar 1, 2012 at 08:43 AM in reply to
        I happen to know the people from Immanual that helped with the dogs at BNHS. I understand that the principal from South Central Middle School also asked that the dogs be brought to their school. The victims siblings go there and their friends were also grieving. At least one dog was taken to the family that had been in the other car to comfort that family also. I don't feel that closing one school in order to hold a double funeral for these girls has hurt anyone. Instead of complaining about the concern and help that is being given to the famiies and friends I would suggest going down on your knees and prayer for these families that are grieving.
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