Ventura County

Disaster search dog foundation returns to destroyed facility following Thomas Fire

Disaster search dog foundation returns to destroyed facility following Thomas Fire

SANTA PAULA, Calif. - A national organization based in Santa Paula dispatches dogs all over the country and abroad to help with search efforts in disasters.

Most recently, these dogs helped in Hurricane Harvey and the Mexico earthquake, but now, the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation finds itself a part of its own disaster after the Thomas Fire destroyed a section of its training center

“It was all about getting the dogs out first, but knowing it might not be here when we get back,” said Head Trainer, Sonja Heritage.

The Thomas Fire scorched two main training zones but left other areas untouched. The staff and all 18 dogs evacuated safely the night the Thomas Fire broke out.

“This is what they live to do,” said Heritage. “Our pack and our family is back together again.”

Development and Communications officer, Denise Sanders, says the organization is ready to rebuild and get back on all four paws.

“We are definitely not used to being apart of the disaster,” said Sanders. “We were touched and things were damaged that we will have to rebuild from and we are currently in the process of doing that. It’s not something we have ever had to do before but we are learning as we go.”

If you would like to help the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation rebuild, please visit Searchdogfoundation.org.


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