SANTA PAULA, Calif. - The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation based out of Santa Paula is doing their part to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. They deployed 14 trained Canines along with dog handlers out to Texas.
The non-profit organization rescues dogs out of shelters, then trains them to become search and rescue dogs in disaster situations such as the catastrophe from Hurricane Harvey.
The Search Dog Foundation was born shorty after the Oklahoma City bombing back in April of 1995. Since then the facility has grown tremendously constructing replica buildings and situations from past disasters including Hurricane Katrina which Marc Valentine and Canine Ricco deployed to.
“We don’t put our dogs in the water situation," said Valentine. "We will take then into an area where the water has receded some, but people are still missing. Then we use these dogs to cover large amount of areas looking for missing people. They can cut down search time down to minutes versus hours and days."
“Since founding the Search Dog Foundation I have been waiting for deployments like this to show that our Canines and our firefighters handlers are amongst the best in the world," said Wilma Melville, founder of Search Dog Foundation. "The reason is due to the training the they receive.”
The Canines and their handlers train twice a week three to four hours a day.
“Everyone learns here and they challenge themselves on the props that we have so that they can learn these things in training and not have to learn them on the fly,” Sonja Heritage, Head Trainer at SDF.
The Search Dog Foundation take a sense of pride knowing that they have trained these Canines with the skills, and knowledge to help those in need.
“People are terrified they have been locked up in rooms for days and when these guys go and find them its a phenomenal feeling,” said Valentine.