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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Protection & Welfare, Animals, Disaster Aid, Disaster Preparedness & Relief Services, Emergency Medical Services & Transport, Health, Search & Rescue Squads

Mission: Our mission is to strengthen disaster response in America by producing highly skilled Canine-Firefighter Disaster Search Teams to search for victims of natural disasters and terrorist attacks. We are the only organization in the U.S. that recruits rescued dogs, gives them ongoing professional training, and partners them with firefighters and other first responders at no cost to their departments.

Programs: Produced dogs trained in search and rescue with fire fighter handlers directly influencing how disaster search dogs are trained nationally.

Community Stories

25 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Suzie4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the honor and privilege of being a "part of the search" since its inception. It was amazing to hear Founder Wilma Melville describe the idea...her vision of what was to become the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation.
I have contributed to the foundation in anyway possible. Volunteering, donating, transporting potential search dogs, answering phones... often right along side Wilma, or at least trying to keep up with her.
She is a humble hero and a visionary. Her commitment and perseverance to "rescuing dogs and turning them into rescuers" been an incredible journey. A journey that I am proud to continue to be a part of, as the searches continue and the Training Center becomes a reality

Judy84

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In 2006 I met Wilma (the founder of the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation) and I soon learned all about this wonderful organization. Being a dog lover and having just recently lost a dog Wilma mentioned the Lifetime Care Program. The next thing I knew we had adopted a dog trough the Lifetime Care program. Two years later we adopted another. I can't say enough good things about the whole experience and if we had room we would have more Lifetime Care Dogs.

As a result of getting to know Wilma and adopting two dogs from the organization I have volunteered at some of the events at the National Training Center and found things to be well organized and felt very welcome.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am proud to be a volunteer at SDF. This organization is dedicated to the end results- a successful search. All the staff a SDF are the best professionals in the field who make this non-profit work smoothly and efficeintly.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering for the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (NDSDF) for several years and have also donated on several occasions. This is an incredible organization! The staff members are dedicated professionals who are committed to disaster response and who are passionate about what they do. Wilma Melville, the founder, is very down-to-earth and visits the office and National Training Center (NTC) site on a regular basis. What she has accomplished in a relatively short period of time is truly mind boggling.........from NDSDF's inception in 1996 to breaking ground at the NTC in 2010. Debra Tosch, the director, is tireless in her pursuit of NDSDF's goals and is an enthusiastic and effective leader. The organization is small but impactful. I love the fact that NDSDF rescues dogs and then provides them with a purpose in life. Watching the search dogs in action is an amazing experience. Their energy is boundless. I could not have picked a better organization with which to volunteer. NDSDF is top-notch!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It's hard to think of a more dire situation than being trapped in a collapsed structure as a result of a man made or natural disaster. I can only begin to imagine the despair such an experience would entail for the victim and their loved ones. I think it's likely in such a horrible situation that one's life might come down to the skill and training of a search dog and it's handler. While none of us expect to find ourselves needing such assistance, we obviously live in an unpredictable world. My wife and I are reminded of this when we think back to a visit to the World Trade Center only two days before it was destroyed.

I have been volunteering with the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation for approximately six months. I feel as if every few hours I can spare their expert trainers from other tasks affords them more quality training time with their canine partners. The chance that my minor efforts might someday contribute in some small way to a successful rescue is a rewarding feeling I receive no matter how seemingly insignificant the task I am assigned to complete. Having worked with canines in the military over forty years ago, it is also inspiring to be reminded of the incredible abilities of a highly trained canine.

During my time volunteering, I have been amazed at the dedication and sense of purpose exhibited by every staff person at the NDSDF. From the office staff to the expert trainers, there is a pervasive sense of dedication to making a positive contribution to the overall mission. It has truly been a rewarding privilege to volunteer with such an outstanding organization comprised of such dedicated individuals.

Review from CharityNavigator

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is a amazing organization that helps when unexpected disaster strikes and the need is the greatest. Very few entities (including Search Dog Foundation) can legitimitely claim that they have resources that are ready to deploy and make an immediate positive impact. This organization is part of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) that allows US federal government employees to donate to their choice of charity. I would strongly urge federal government to contribute to this organization to help achieve its mission objectives as the work they do makes this world a better place.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer with the National Search Dog Foundation on and off for nearly 15 years. The Founder, Wilma Melville is truly an amazing person to have put together this incredibly worthy organization. The staff is small but are truly dedicated and give 110% willingly. For the funds to have been raised to make their ultimate goal of a national training center to come about is almost unbelievable. To be able to create a facility that will provide training for both the handlers (who are mostly firefighters) and the dogs at the same facility is absolutely ideal. I look forward to volunteering at the new training center and continuing to be a part of this amazing organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I am so excited about the NTC coming to life. Being a handler in Ventura California and California in general is an exciting time because of what the NTC is going to offer us as handlers. Knowing that my canine partner Ben will be given an opportunity to train in the most state of the art complex and ensuring he has the best ability to locate someone that is missing in a disaster not only brings excitement but also a somber effect with the realization that the search dog foundation is trying to emulate the real thing. Nowhere else can we get this and this will allow Ben to find the people if they are there.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I primarily volunteer as a photographer for SDF. I have worked with them for more than five years. When I first started, they and their mission were still relatively unknown. It has been my privelege to see them grow to national attention when Search Dogs they have rescued and trained, with their handlers, have shown their true worth when deployed to local as well as international disasters, such as the Haiti earthquake and Japan quake and tsunami. I know many of the dogs and handlers personally, and most of the staff as well, having worked with them at many of the events. I have never know such a dedicated, hardworking group of individuals. It is so gratifying to see them get the recognition they have earned. This organization deserves everyone's thanks and gratitude. You or I could be the next one they save.

Review from CharityNavigator

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have admired the work the NDSDF does since I first heard of them after 9/11. I wanted to be involved with this organization, so gave them my resume in the hopes of joining the team. I am a volunteer right now, and have come to appreciate the fact that the BIG THINGS that they do, are as a result of remaining small, stable and strong. They stay connected not only to the dogs, the handlers, trainers and the life time care animals, but also to the donors. They are totally appreciative of all donations, no matter the size and really show it. This is a hardworking, dedicated team who all have the same goal. Recruiting dogs from shelters and giving them jobs saving human life is an amazing undertaking, and the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation is doing it.