Search Dog Teams Ready for Anything

A group of dedicated California search dog teams receive the highest urban search certification recognized in the US.

By | Posted: Mar 8, 2013, 10 a.m. EDT

Deresa Teller and HUck, Scott Zins and CallieOn February 23-24, as 40 mph gusts swept the Los Angeles County Fire Department's Del Valle Regional Training Center, four SDF Search Dogs combed two enormous piles of broken concrete(10,000 and 13,000 square feet) in search of live victims buried deep beneath the surface. 
Despite windy, dusty conditions which challenged the dogs' ability to pick up scent, the Search Teams performed beautifully and all four Search Teams passed the test!
This Certification is the highest level of urban search readiness recognized in the United States and marks a critical milestone for a Canine Disaster Search Team. It means they can be deployed to find survivors in the wake of a tornado, earthquake, building collapse, train wreck, mudslide or other disaster when called upon by their Task Force.
Join us in recognizing their extraordinary determination and commitment to service!

Deresa Teller & Huck
First Certification
Los Angeles City Fire - California Task Force 1
Huck was recruited from East Bay SPCA
Guardian: Hank Butler-Funk / Sponsors: Joseph Sayre; Joel Gambord
Scott Zins & Callie
Los Angeles City Fire - California Task Force 1
Callie was a career change from Guide Dogs of America
Guardians: Mary Deweese; Janice Hong / Sponsors: Sue and Richard Masson

Wade Haller and Rex, Eric Gray and RileyWade Haller & Rex
Long Beach Fire - California Task Force 5
Riley was donated by Teri Draeger
 Guardians: Mary and Jeff Kroll; Ann Catts / Sponsor: The Dodson Foundation
Eric Gray & Riley
Santa Barbara County Fire - California Task Force 2
Rex was donated by Barbara Ornbaun
Guardian: Sandy Flanagan

 "I was a lot more nervous this second time because the expectations were greater, explains Firegihter Wade Haller.” Since we'd already passed once, the pressure was on. Luckily I've got Rex and he took us through it. Having the support of my Training Group, who had talked strategy the week prior, as well as SDF was a huge help. It was so nice to see the staff, Wilma and Debra supporting even non-SDF handlers. Debra has a lot of experience - observing and taking FEMA tests - so to see her guiding and reassuring ALL handlers through the test was great for me to see."

"After nearly three years of consistent training, thousands of miles traveled, and an unforgettable deployment to Japan in March of 2011, it was time to see if Riley and I had the advanced skill level needed to re-certify,” says Firefighter Eric Gray. "Once again, Riley made me so incredibly proud to be his partner! We have to thank those who made it possible for us to achieve this milestone: my fellow Task Force Canine Handlers who constantly challenged us as a team; my wife whose unwavering support and patience made this journey possible; and Wilma Melville and the SDF staff, without whose vision and support none of this would be possible. Riley and I are honored to be 'Part of the Search' and will continue to maintain this level of readiness so that when the call comes, we'll be able to ensure that no one is left behind."



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