Ventura County

Search dogs train in Santa Paula

National Disaster Search Dog Foundation trains future responders everyday

Search Dog Training

SANTA PAULA, Calif. - About a dozen teams from the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation are making sure no one is left behind in the tornado devastation in Moore, Okla.

One of them tweeted, "devastation, near tears."

They got their training at the foundation's training center off Wheeler Canyon in Santa Paula.

That's where future search dogs are trained every day.

On Tuesday, trainers hid one of their own in a pile of rubble to put a dog named Tanner to the test.

It took Tanner about  15 seconds to find the human scent and bark.

Lead trainer Sonja Heritage said the dogs are trained to think the person buried in the rubble has a tug-toy or ball for them to play with.  It's a reward that keeps them from looking for other scents, like food.

The training ground also has agility courses to help dogs get used to going through tunnels and walking on metal fencing that may fall down during a disaster.

Most of the rescue dogs were rescued from shelters.

Dogs that pass the training course will be placed with first responders who are likely to take them to the next disaster.

The foundation is working on permits to improve the training site.

The non-profit counts on donations to keep the dog teams funded.

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