US: Paws on the ground: Comfort dogs bring much-needed love to Las Vegas

Police say Las Vegas gunman planned ‘extensively,’ used cameras to monitor police as they approached

  Police say Las Vegas gunman planned ‘extensively,’ used cameras to monitor police as they approached Authorities in Las Vegas said Tuesday that the gunman who killed least 59 people at a country music festival “extensively” planned the massacre, placing cameras in his room and the nearby hallway so he could see when police officers were closing in.LAS VEGAS — Authorities in Las Vegas said Tuesday that the gunman who killed least 59 people at a country music festival “extensively” planned the massacre, placing cameras in his suite and the nearby hallway so he could see when police officers were closing in.

LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs These are trained Comfort Dogs for @lccharities. They interact with people at churches, hospitals, events and in disaster situations.© LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs'/Facebook LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs These are trained Comfort Dogs for @lccharities. They interact with people at churches, hospitals, events and in disaster situations.

For many scarred by seeing the carnage inflicted in the Las Vegas mass shooting, a little comfort came courtesy of man's best friend.

Nineteen trained golden retrievers from across the country padded their way to Las Vegas this week courtesy of Lutheran Church Charities to provide comfort for those affected by the attack, which left 59 dead, more than 500 wounded, and thousands of families and friends emotionally devastated.

Las Vegas Investigators Question How No One Knew Plans

  Las Vegas Investigators Question How No One Knew Plans Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said that the police could not be everywhere.Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said at a press conference yesterday that it was unusual, given the amount of preparation required by Paddock to carry out his grisly plan, that no one foresaw what could happen and had alerted authorities.

But even those who survived the carnage at the Route 91 Harvest festival without physical wounds desperately needed that nuzzle — like Sunrise Hospital director of guest services Tracy Szymanski, who is still persevering through her job despite having been in the crowd Sunday night.

"I came straight to the hospital from the venue at 10:30 at night, still wearing my concert clothes, because I knew there were things I could do to help the families," Szymanski told TODAY. "It was a sigh of relief when the first dogs arrived Monday morning, because I knew the cavalry had arrived.

"I felt I had help at a time when I felt helpless."

LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs These are trained Comfort Dogs for @lccharities. They interact with people at churches, hospitals, events and in disaster situations.© LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs'/Facebook LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs These are trained Comfort Dogs for @lccharities. They interact with people at churches, hospitals, events and in disaster situations.

The comfort dogs, along with their 30 human handlers, are part of the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs unit — veterans used to having their "paws on the ground" after disasters, natural or otherwise.

Investigators turn to Las Vegas gunman’s girlfriend in effort to determine his motive

  Investigators turn to Las Vegas gunman’s girlfriend in effort to determine his motive Police have struggled since the shooting to identify a motive behind the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.Rachael Parker, 33, was killed while attending the concert with coworkers from the Manhattan Beach Police Department, where she had worked as a records technician. "I just remember honestly that whenever I walked by she took the time to look my way, wave and smile. And that wasn't just for me, that was form everybody. She was that kind of person," Captain Tim Hageman of the Manhattan Beach Police Department told KXLY.

The unit's canine caregivers brought survivors some solace after the Sandy Hook shootings, and more recently, provided comfort to parts of Texas and Florida hit hardest by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.

And even amidst all the horror of the Las Vegas shooting, it's amazing to see how quickly these four-legged pros can spread smiles, LCC president Tim Hetzner told TODAY.

LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs These are trained Comfort Dogs for @lccharities. They interact with people at churches, hospitals, events and in disaster situations.© LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs'/Facebook LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs These are trained Comfort Dogs for @lccharities. They interact with people at churches, hospitals, events and in disaster situations.

"Dogs are non-judgmental, they don't take notes and are comfortable to talk to," Hetzner, who oversaw the Las Vegas mission, said.

"A key part of healing in any crisis or disaster is to be able to talk about (the trauma), and people find it easier to do that with dogs."

Those dogs — including one, Lois, who is based in Las Vegas and a regular visitor at the Sunrise Hospital — have been busy. "Because of the magnitude of this event, just about everybody who lives in Las Vegas has been affected," said Hetzner.

Trump visits Las Vegas on 'sad day' after mass shooting

  Trump visits Las Vegas on 'sad day' after mass shooting Declaring it a "very, very sad day" for himself and the nation, President Donald Trump traveled Wednesday to the city where a gunman killed 59 people at a concert. 

Besides working with survivors and grieving families, the comfort dogs visited a high school where several students were injured in the shooting, hotel workers helping victims' families, and traumatized first responders.

They have also visited the coroner's office, both to support victims' loved ones and staffers wading in such overwhelming grief.

It's extremely emotional work for the dogs.

LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs These are trained Comfort Dogs for @lccharities. They interact with people at churches, hospitals, events and in disaster situations.© LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs'/Facebook LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs These are trained Comfort Dogs for @lccharities. They interact with people at churches, hospitals, events and in disaster situations.

"The dogs have an ability to tell when someone is suffering, so after working with them for a few hours, we take their service vest off, pull a ball out let them run around and be dogs for an hour," said Hetzner. "These are golden retrievers, they like to retrieve. That's how they work off their stress."

The current team is being flown out Friday to be replaced by a new, rested crop that will stay through the beginning of next week.

"They come up to you and get dog hair all over you, and then just nuzzle up to you and put a smile on your face," said Szymanski. "Every morning, as the person who supervises their visits at the hospital, I get to get my first dose."

"It helps me process everything."

LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs These are trained Comfort Dogs for @lccharities. They interact with people at churches, hospitals, events and in disaster situations.© LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs'/Facebook LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs These are trained Comfort Dogs for @lccharities. They interact with people at churches, hospitals, events and in disaster situations.

1,000 leads later, authorities still stumped by Vegas gunman .
More than a week after the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history investigators are stumped about the key question: What led a 64-year-old high-stakes gambler to kill 58 people and wound hundreds of others at a country music concert?It's an answer they may never find. The FBI and Las Vegas police have sorted through more than a thousand leads and examined Stephen Paddock's politics, finances, any possible terrorist radicalization and his social behavior. By Monday they had repeatedly searched his homes and interviewed his brother, girlfriend and others he's done business with.

See also