National Disaster Search Dog Foundation

Do you remember the bombing of the Oklahoma City Building in 1995? On April 19 of that year the Alfred P. Murrah Building was bombed, killing 168 people, including 19 children. In the aftermath, a retired physical education teacher and grandmother of six, Wilma Melville, assisted in the search and rescue/recovery effort combing the wreckage with her search dog, Murphy looking for survivors of this massive tragedy. When Wilma returned home, she was determined to have some good come out of this catastrophe. She felt strongly that there was a need for more and better search and rescue teams for situations like this. She founded the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation ( in 1996. The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Santa Paula, California. Their mission is to strengthen disaster response in America by rescuing and recruiting dogs and partnering them with firefighters and other first responders to find people buried alive in the wreckage of disasters. The dogs are referred to the program by individuals and organizations and shelters. They complete an extensive training program and then are paired with a handler. After they complete their initial training, they have ongoing training so that they stay “sharp” for whenever the situation warrants.

There are a number of ways you can help. The first, obviously, is by direct donation. Also, you can purchase their merchandise. This helps in two ways: the sale proceeds provide funding, and the merchandise increases awareness of this helpful group. And you can send them any Petco,, or Amazon gift cards, which can be used to purchase needed items. These cards may be mailed to: Search Dog Foundation, 6800 Wheeler Canyon Road, Santa Paula, CA 93030.

And last but not least, it is a fact of life that not all dogs make it through the program. Dogs, like people, each have their own set of strengths and talents, and not all dogs are cut out for this. The National Search Dog Foundation is committed to finding permanent homes for all dogs that come through their program. No dog will ever be surrendered back to a shelter. Once they are home, they stay home. There is a list of available dogs on their site. They all look perfectly wonderful and full of love.

Everyone and everything needs love,


“The highest form of wisdom is kindness.” The Talmud

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