As a FEMA disaster dog handler (with New Mexico Task Force 1) I am especially proud to see the awesome search dogs and their handlers that make up team USA in Nepal. They are facing incredible challenges - and are saving lives!! Here Jason Vasquez from Los Angeles Fire Department and his search dog Ripley are negotiating a fraction of the area that needs to be covered. Ripley was rescued by Sioux City Animal Adoption & Rescue Center in Sioux City, IA and was trained by the Search Dog Foundation, a non-profit organization that transforms rescues into rescuers. These dogs are not your everyday pooches, but highly driven search machines. (Yep, Google on steroids!) They are trained to locate people that are buried under rubble. As you can tell that they are capable of working through an incredible amount of distractions and focus on one just thing: the scent of a live person, who is not visible. Getting to this point in training takes takes lots of work, love, sweat and tears. Love you guys! Be safe!
Above is one of my favorite training photos of our team. NM-TF1 deployed to Moore, OK in 1999, the Pentagon after 9/11 and to Katrina and Rita. I was honored to be part of these missions with my beloved search dogs Guinness and Spenser. Below is my new partners. Piper and Sirius are in training and Finn is FEMA certified. Sirius belongs to NM-TF1 and was trained by Penn Vet Working Dog Center.