National Disaster Search Dog Foundation Rescue Teams Deployed to Japan

Mar 16, 2011, 16:25 ET from The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF)

LOS ANGELES, March 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Six Canine Disaster Search Teams trained by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF), a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, have been deployed to Japan by USAID as part of California Task Force 2 to assist with rescue efforts in response to the powerful 8.9 earthquake that struck the island nation on March 11th.

Six canines and their firefighter-handlers are searching from dawn to dark, combing the wreckage in Ofunato City on the North East coast of Japan to find survivors buried alive in the rubble. Their base of operations is a gymnasium which California Task Force 2 shares with Virginia Task Force 1 and a British Task Force, partners in the search effort.

The job of the Search Dogs is to find live victims, conscious or unconscious, in the debris left by the earthquake and tsunami. All rescue personnel will be awaiting a “Bark Alert” from the dogs, letting them know there is someone in need of rescue. Equally important is the dogs’ ability to “clear” an area, i.e. determine that there is no one alive in the wreckage, so the rescue crews can move on to the next site. Everything the teams have learned during their intensive training will be put to use in saving lives.

“Every minute counts as the teams work to find people buried beneath the rubble,” says SDF 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.”

About The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF)

The Search Dog Foundation is a nonprofit whose mission is to strengthen emergency response in America by teaming rescued dogs with firefighters to find people trapped in the wreckage of disasters. Since its founding in 1996, SDF has rescued hundreds of dogs, many on the brink of euthanasia. They have trained 117 Search Teams, 75 of which are currently active.

Since its founding in 1996, SDF has rescued hundreds of dogs, many on the brink of euthanasia, and turned them into highly skilled rescuers. They have trained 117 Search Teams, 75 of which are current. Their 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.

SDF will train 21 new teams in 2011 (at a cost of $15,000 per team) to be ready for the next local, national or international disaster. SDF receives no government funding and relies solely on support from individuals, private foundations, and companies to provide this critical resource—at no cost to fire departments or taxpayers. 

For more information about the Search Teams or to make a donation to turn rescued dogs into rescuers, help form our new 2011 teams, and provide the highest-level training to our existing teams: visit, and follow the teams on Facebook and Twitter.

Janet Reineck, Ph.D.

Search Dog Foundation Development Director

(805) 966-5439 / cell (805) 455-6351/

SOURCE The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF)