SANTA PAULA, Calif., March 29, 2013 – Nineteen new search and rescue dogs will learn this year how to seek and find victims of disasters in the variety of rubble at the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation’s training center in Santa Paula, Calif.
The foundation has released information about four of the dogs currently undergoing the training.Cassie is a gorgeous yellow Labrador Retriever donated to SDF by Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) of San Rafael, Calif., which runs a specialized breeding program and trains canines to assist the visually impaired. Over the years, SDF has received six dogs from this program that have become successful search dogs. Jessica Drew, a trainer with GDB, contacted SDF last September about a lovely dog that had great drive and too much energy for GDB clients. Cassie tested beautifully, and we knew she was a perfect candidate for a career change to search and rescue. She was named by SDF Estate Donor Sue Officer. If a picture says a thousand words, then one look at this photo of Crockett after a good game of tug tells us this is what disaster search training means to the right dog – pure joy! Crockett’s journey has been a long one. Originally found wandering the streets in Virginia, this handsome black Lab was transported to the Animal Welfare Association of Voorhees, N.J., where its trainer Phil Guida noticed the boy’s drive and focus, then contacted SDF. Crockett has progressed quickly and has been a delight to work with. He will be paired with a handler in the summer of 2013 – the first graduate of SDF’s new train¬ing center! Crockett was named by SDF donor Cameron Mercer. Skye was picked up as a stray by Western Hills Humane Society in Spearfish, S.D., in August of 2012. How he got there is a mystery; he was wearing a Nebraska ID tag! Labeled an “escape artist” by the shelter staff, Skye was discovered by former SDF Trainer Kellee Matthews who relocated to South Dakota last summer. As Kellee approached Skye’s kennel, tempting him with a ball, he exploded with energy. He passed his evaluation with flying colors, and was soon on his way to California to begin training. This fabulous dog loves everyone he meets, is driven and focused when working, and gentle and interactive when not. He gets the job done and makes it look easy with his strong commitment to finding survivors! Taylor was born at the Sioux Falls Area Humane Society in September of 2010. She was adopted by a family, but then returned to the shelter at nearly 2 years of age when they could no longer care for her. She was recruited for SDF’s training program by Matthews who saw in Taylor all of the characteristics that make a canine hero.
She was given her name by Mike Diani of Diani Building Corp., the general contractor for the new training center. Taylor was the name of Mike’s 17-year-old niece, who lost her life in August of 2011 after a five-year battle with ovarian cancer. She was always full of vigor and energy, and the epitome of strength and grace while fighting for her life. We could not think of a better way to honor the memory of such an exceptional young woman than to bestow her name on a canine hero that will one day save lives.
SDF is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization based in Ojai, Calif. Our mission is to strengthen disaster preparedness in America by partnering rescued dogs with firefighters to find people buried alive in the wreckage of disasters. The teams are provided at no cost to fire departments and other emergency service agencies throughout the country.
For information, go to www.searchdogfoundation.org.