Search Dog Foundation Teams in Japan

Dogs, handlers searching for survivors in rubble of earthquake, tsunami.

Posted: March 18, 2011, 3 a.m. EDT

Riley, a Yellow Lab who works with handler Eric Gray, combs through some rubble in Ofunato City, Japan. Photo courtesy: Search Dog Foundation
Six dogs and their Southern California-based firefighter-handlers have arrived in Japan and are combing the wreckage in Ofunato City on the northeast coast to find survivors in the rubble from the recent earthquake and tsunami.

The job of the dogs, trained by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, is to find live victims, conscious or unconscious, in the debris left by the earthquake and tsunami. Rescue personnel will be awaiting a “bark alert” from the dogs, letting them know there is someone in need of rescue.

“Every minute counts as the teams work to find people buried beneath the rubble,” says Search Dog Foundation founder Wilma Melville. “After the Haiti deployment, this is a battle-seasoned group. If there are people still alive in the rubble, the dogs will find them. I am so proud of every canine and handler out there combing the debris for signs of life, and feel confident in their abilities knowing they have had the best training possible and are at their highest skill level.”

SDF is dedicated to partnering rescued dogs with firefighters and providing them at no cost to fire departments to find people trapped in the wreckage of disasters. The organization has rescued hundreds of dogs, many on the brink of euthanasia, and turned them into highly skilled rescuers.

Their 71 teams have responded to 76 disasters, including the World Trade Center attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake — where they helped bring 12 people to safety.

For more information about the search teams or to make a donation, go to the group's website, and follow the teams on Facebook and Twitter.

The canines and their handlers get settled in their base in Japan — a gymnasium in Ofunato City. Photo courtesy: Search Dog Foundation
The deployed teams in Japan include:

Eric Gray and Riley — Santa Barbara County Fire
Riley is a 3½ year-old Yellow Lab rescued by South Bay Purebred Rescue in San Jose, Calif.

Gary Durian and Baxter — L.A. County Fire
Baxter is a 6½ year-old Golden Retriever rescued by Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue in Sacramento, Calif.

Ron Horetski and Pearl — L.A. County Fire 
Pearl is a 5½ year-old Black Lab rescued by High Sierra Animal rescue in Portola, Calif., and was the 2010 ASPCA Dog of the Year.

Bill Monahan and Hunter — L.A. County Fire
Hunter is an 8-year-old Border Collie donated by Patricia Baldwin.

Jasmine Segura and Cadillac — L.A. County Fire
Cadillac is a 6 year-old Black Lab donated by Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, Calif.

Linda Tacconelli and Joe — Civilian — Santa Barbara-Ventura Training Group
Joe is a 4-year-old Yellow Lab rescued by the Longmont Humane Society in Longmont, Colo.



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Jo Ann   Lodgepole, NE

3/21/2011 7:55:05 PM

Great article, and wonderful teams of dogs and people!

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S   Three Oaks, MI

3/19/2011 6:36:34 PM

Brave doggies & humans alike!

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Cindy   Rockford, IL

3/19/2011 8:29:06 AM

Good work to all involved.

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Galadriel   Lothlorien, ME

3/18/2011 11:03:47 PM

Dogs are indispensable for this type of rescue. Good for them!

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