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|Last Updated: Monday, November 05, 2012|
National Disaster Search Dog Foundation Raising Funds for National Training Center
The National Training Center for the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation showed off its future home on a Santa Paula Ranch during their Handler Recognition Ceremony. Trainers toured the 125 acres that will be home to the first national training center for search and rescue dogs in the United States.
"To train a handler and a dog for a disaster takes replicating what one might find at any disaster and guessing what one will find at future disasters," says Wilma Melville, founder of Search Dog Foundation. As such, the center will offer many scenarios which teams may encounter during their deployments.
Executive Director Debra Tosch says that they hope to change the layout of the rescue scenarios each quarter because dogs memorize sites once they have been trained. The Search Dog Foundation is working with people who specialize in Hollywood props to make the rubble and other obstacles lightweight enough to move, yet still retain the realism of a disaster site.
The dogs that are chosen to handle disaster situations usually come from shelters and have specific traits, most notably that they must be eager for any toy and remain focused on it. They also have to stay when told and not become distracted.
Matching the dog to a handler is of extreme importance. "What we try to do when we pair the handler with the dog is to find a similar personality because that high drive intensity that border collies have, for instance, we can't just match that with a handler who is maybe a little slower or a bit more lackadaisical," explains Lead Trainer Pluis Davern. She says that trainers use gut instinct and body language to match dogs with their handlers. One dog is turned lose at a time with a number of handlers. Then, the three trainers decide who goes with which dog.
It takes six to eight months to train a dog, but about one year for handlers to catch up in training and get the dog certified. With only half the search dogs certified that the United States needs, the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation is hoping that its training center will help increase certifications. The project will cost $16.6 million dollars and the foundation has raised 16 percent of the funds needed. They hope to break ground in two years and building will commence as soon as the funds are obtained.
For further information on the project and donation information visit www.searchdogfoundation.org.
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Author:Barbara Brooks - FDNNTV.com
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