GOOD NEWS: Group Turns Shelter Dogs Into First Responders

After a hurricane or a tornado hits or a train derails, some of the first responders on the scene are canine-human rescue units, whose goal is to find survivors in the wreckage. A lot of those are trained by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF). It’s a nonprofit that trains dogs they rescue from shelters to become rescuers themselves.

The SDF was started in 1996 by Wilma Melville, after she and her search dog were sent to the Oklahoma City bombing site. She learned there weren’t enough search dog teams to meet demands during the emergency, so she came up with the win-win idea that provides more dogs and saves shelter dogs from an uncertain future.

“No technology can match a dog’s speed and accuracy in finding people trapped in the wreckage of a disaster,” says Denise Sanders, SDF’s communications and development officer. “Dogs have a remarkable sense of smell and an ability to ignore all other scents and noises when they receive a task. They also work quickly and can negotiate dangerous and unstable terrain — they have four-wheel drive on paws.”

Source: USA Today

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