Search Dog Foundation teams dispatched to Japan

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Hello Everyone,

I am sure all of you, like me, watched the videos coming out of Japan in horror and disbelief at the incredible, wide-spread destruction and devastation. Following is an announcement about teams of humans and dogs being dispatched to aid in the search to find people still alive.

By: Janet Reineck, Search Dog Foundation Development Director


Six Canine Disaster Search Teams trained by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) have arrived in Japan and will soon be traveling to the devastated region where the skills of the canines are critically needed to use find people still trapped in the rubble.

The teams have their gear ready and are waiting to leave the Misawa Air Base and head to Ofunato City on the North East coast of Japan where they will be conducting reconnaissance and primary searches. The group is divided into the RED team (Jasmine & Cadillac, Eric & Riley, Gary & Baxter), and the BLUE team (Bill & Hunter, Linda & Joe, Ron & Pearl).

The teams were called into action on Friday by USAID as part of Los Angeles County Task Force 2. They traveled on a chartered plane out of LAX together with Virginia Task Force 1 (America’s other international Task Force). Some 75 tons of rescue equipment and supplies for each Task Force were sent into the disaster zone via military transport.

The teams flew by way of Alaska where the plane touched down to re-fuel. An airport van shuttled the dogs and their handlers to the snow so they could stretch their legs (and paws!). They landed at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan on Saturday at 10:30pm PST. The group of 12 dogs did well on the flight over and bedded down with handlers to rest after their long journey.

The job of the 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. Everything the teams have learned during their intensive training will be put to use in saving lives.

Since SDF’s founding in 1996, their teams have been part of 75 deployments—including the World Trade Center attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and the Haiti disaster, where they helped bring 12 people to safety. Each time the teams deploy they come back with crucial lessons that are shared with all Search Teams to sharpen training techniques and tactics and enhance emergency response in our country…and abroad.

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 – at no cost to taxpayers or the government.

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 Search Dog Foundation, and follow the teams on Facebook and Twitter.

Here is some info from their website:

  • Founded in 1996, the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Ojai, California.
  • Our 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.
  • We offer the professionally trained canines and an ongoing training program at no cost to fire departments.
  • And we ensure lifetime care for every dog in our program: once rescued, these dogs never need to be rescued again.
  • There are currently 74 SDF-trained Search Teams located in California, Florida, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.
  • Thanks to Mutual Aid Agreements between counties, cities and states, these precious, life-saving resources can be shared regionally and nationally.


Please give your dogs a big hug for me,


Mar 14, 2011 | 0 | Animal Communication, animal welfare, Dog Behavior