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Rescued Dogs Now Rescue Victims

Special to the Courier

Founded in 1996, the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, non-governmental organization based in Ojai, California.

Its mission is to strengthen disaster response in America by recruiting rescued dogs and partnering them with firefighters and other first responders to find people buried alive in the wreckage of disasters. The foundation offers the professionally trained canines - and an ongoing training program - at no cost to fire departments. The foundation also ensures lifetime care for every dog in the program: “Once rescued, these dogs never need to be rescued again.”

There are currently 70 SDF-trained Search Teams located in California, Florida, New York, Oklahoma and Utah. Thanks to Mutual Aid Agreements between counties, cities and states, these precious, life-saving resources can be shared regionally and nationally.

The Pledge of an NDS Dog:
If you are ever trapped under a ton of rubble,
I promise to sniff you out.
I promise to be worth every cent of the $10,000 that it took to train me.
I promise to ignore all other more fascinating smells and concentrate on the scent of live humans.
I promise to go about my work with a wagging tail, even if my paws get sore.
I promise never to give up.

This year, as every year, we pause to remember those who perished in the September 11th tragedy, and pay tribute to the heroes - canine and human - who risk their lives to save others.

In all, 33 FEMA-Certified Canine Disaster Search Teams were deployed to the World Trade Center disaster, including 13 teams trained by SDF.

The deployment posed the most challenging search environment the teams had yet faced, but their high-level training kept them on course and focused on the job at hand.

In recognition of the extraordinary dedication and service of our Search Teams, for the past eight years the Wall Street Journal has run the “Pledge” at no cost to the Search Dog Foundation. The ad was created in the wake of September 11th by Young & Rubicam, a worldwide PR firm, who donated their collective time and talent to raise awareness about SDF. It was distributed by GroupM, an international marketing and communications agency.

The work of SDF-trained Search Teams continues in their deployments to the devastating earthquake in Haiti, to Hurricane Katrina and to 67 other disasters since 2001. The foundation remains deeply grateful to the Wall Street Journal, Young & Rubicam and GroupM for their support of its mission, and to the 66 Search Teams for their selfless service to America.

The ad says it all: SDF search teams make a pledge to ensure that when disaster strikes, no one is left behind in the wreckage.

For more information, visit http://www.searchdogfoundation.org/98/html/index.html

For a moving tribute to the search and rescue dogs of 9-11, visit


and scroll down - way down - the homepage to “The search and rescue dogs of 9-11” and click on the video.