In the aftermath of the powerful 7.0 earthquake, the SDF sent six Canine Search Teams to Haiti to assist with search and rescue efforts. The dogs the foundation employs are sourced from rescue organizations and are tasked with finding people buried alive in the wreckage of disasters. SDF recruits the dogs and partners them with firefighters, providing the canines and the training at no cost to their departments.
On Sunday, the team celebrated saving five people from the ruins of Port au Prince. After one rescue, in which a woman was rescued from the rubble of a hotel, the appreciation shown by locals for the Search Teams and their Task Force was overwhelming, and locals began chanting "USA, USA…". Later in the day, 3 women were saved from the same collapsed building, with Search Dogs Cadillac, Maverick and Hunter playing instrumental roles in locating them. The two teams – the Blue and Red team – work in alternating shifts, ensuring that there is always a team available.
SDF Executive Director Debra Tosch comments: "The rescues in Haiti underscore the critical importance of Canine Search Teams in finding survivors in the aftermath of major disasters. This is our mission, and we’re honored to be part of the Haiti rescue effort in conjunction with the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the L.A. Country Task Force."
SDF receives no government funding and relies solely on support from individuals, private foundations and companies to produce these highly-skilled teams. Since its founding in 1996, SDF has rescued hundreds of dogs, many on the brink of euthanasia. They have trained 105 Search Teams, 72 of which are currently active, and teams have been deployed to 66 disasters, including the World Trade Center attacks and Hurricane Katrina.
Picture Courtesy of National Disaster Search Dog Foundation