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National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, Inc.

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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

106 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've know about the Search Dog Foundation since it's inception in 1996 and have followed it since then. I have now been volunteering for a few years so I see first-hand what they do. The dogs they rescue are then turned into rescuers! They are trained by the highly professional staff at SDF and then matched with a first responder (fireman/fire woman). The dog lives with its handler 24/7 and are always ready to be deployed to any disaster. These dogs just love to work. It's nice to know that if a disaster happens, these highly trained dogs and their handlers will be there for you!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been both a donor and a volunteer for SDF for about four or five years now. They have grown a lot in that time and are in the process of making founder, Wilma Melville's dream of a state-of-the-art training facility, a reality. Through all the growth, they have retained that small operation mentality of thanking their donors and making everyone feel a part of the organization. Funds raised actually go where they are needed rather than to marketing. Volunteers are a big part of that philosophy!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I love SDF! Working with all of their Volunteers is so rewarding!

Donor

Rating: 5

I was raising a potential Guide Dog for the Blind who was completely bored with Guide Dog training. Then the organization I was volunteering with dissolved unexpectedly and I was able to keep the dog. I knew that from the time he started getting bored with training that this was a dog who needed a job in order to be happy: preferably a very active and challenging job.

A person I met who did wilderness search and rescue suggested that I look into NDSDF. I did, and was amazed by the work that they did.

A short time later, Pluis Davern tested him and he started search Dog training. He became one of the wonderful Search Dog Foundation dogs: Icon.

Though his life was brief, he was so happy!

While I don't have much money to give, the Search Dog Foundation is my charity of choice. When I am able, I give what I can.

The work that they do is beyond amazing and what a contribution they make to our first responders and to the citizens of our nation. I cannot think of a cause or group that is more deserving of everyone's support.

Donor

Rating: 5

I became a donor after I saw a demonstration of a search dog in action at a court reporting convention in DC. What an amazing charity that saves lives on both ends of the spectrum!! I follow all of their stories on social media and proudly donate to this very worthy cause.

Donor

Rating: 5

The National Search Dog Foundation's motto "from rescued to rescuer" tells it all. I am so grateful dogs that would most likely be euthanized or live in shelters for their entire lives are given meaningful jobs as search and rescue dogs. That's a win-win! In addition, any dogs that are rescued but don't make the cut are given forever homes with loving families. I am so impressed with this mission I've added a bequest to the foundation in my estate plan.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been supporting this organization since September 2001.
Not only do they do great work helping people in all kinds of countries with disasters, but most of my donation goes to the work. Not into salaries. The most impressive thing, no matter how much l donate, everyone gets a personal phone call of thanks from a volunteer. My only regret, is l wish l lived closer so l could be a volunteer. I thank God for Wilma, the great lady behind NDSDF and for all the dogs and handlers helping those in need.

Donor

Rating: 5

My husband & I have been donors to Nat'l Disaster Search Dog Foundation for many years. We love their mission; they provide a win-win in so many ways! First, they rescue dogs from shelters that may not be suitable for most people - high strung, active pups. Nothing wrong with these "wonder dogs" but just tough to place. The Search Dog Foundation takes these dogs and trains them to look for live people in disaster/critical situations. It's a rigorous program. Not all the pups graduate, but that's OK. They are placed in other training programs...the dogs are never returned to the shelter:)

After graduation, the dogs get placed with fire personnel - a team is then born! They are partners in all situations. Wherever there is a need worldwide, these teams are ready and able to help!

We have developed great friendships with the staff and with many of the teams. We currently are guardians of 4 teams and are so proud of all of them!

In conclusion, we LOVE this organization and its mission! IT's the BEST

Mary & Jeff Kroll
Fort Washington, PA

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I learned about this group a few years ago when they became a client. I was so inspired by their mission and the fact that they turn rescues into life savers! The service these animals and their handlers provide throughout the world is priceless. I've followed the stories of their service and rescues. I can't wait to see their new facility and hope that they will continue to grow and train and save more rescues.

Donor

Rating: 5

I first learned of the Foundation at a court reporting convention in Las Vegas and have since genuinely enjoyed seeing their stellar work. I have 100% confidence that my donations go to a great organization.

snyderpata

Donor

Rating: 5

I'm so happy to support this wonderful charity...it is MY FAVORITE! I have followed them for 5-6 years, and have sponsored a dog the last 2 years, and will sponsor another one this year, also! I love the idea that they obtain their candidate dogs from shelters, donated dogs or from no-kill organizations.....the dogs who prove suitable to become a Search & Rescue dog find their "new career", and are so happy with their new job! The trained dogs are donated to a Fire Department at the successful end of their 9 months training. Here are the 2 dogs I have sponsored in the last 2 years...Clancy and Merlin (shown with their wonderful firefighter handlers)!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

One of my facorite charities!! Dogs are recruited from Rescues and strays, or abandoned animals. They are then trained for 9 months to the speciality of Search & Rescue.. If they pass the rigorous training program, then are then paired with a Firefighter, and donated to his/ her fire department! This is taking a discarded dog ( who would probably be euthanized), and giving them a full and rewarding life!! This is all funded with private donations....how much better could it be???

Review from Guidestar

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Donor

Rating: 5

In 2005, I joined the Moorpark Women's Fortnightly Club in honor of their 100th Anniversary here in Moorpark, California ~ the very first guest speaker I heard was this lovely little woman from Ojai who had begun a 'rescue' of sorts for shelter dogs in Ventura County & turned them into Search & Rescue Dogs at her home & training facility .. since then, I've kept up with Wilma through local news & now social media. It is extraordinary that she has become quite the celebrity having expanded from her original idea leading up to today's current level of Search & Rescue expertise! It's the growth factor that makes this non-profit deserving of this attention, but the growth factor really translates into more lives saved, both human & canine. Next semester, the Club is re-instating this charity as official in it's annual budgetary donations list supporting local charities .. guess who grabbed the open position of Chairman? Sincerely, Kathleen Walle ~ Moorpark, California 93021 kjwalle5@roadrunner.com

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been on the outside looking in for about 10 years now, watching it grow, get better and amaze me. This organization knows what it is doing and wants to do, to help the world when a National Disaster strikes. Not only do they rescue shelter dogs that no one wanted and turn them into life saving rescuers. If they are not right for the program, they find those dogs homes, never to be returned to a shelter.
The more teams trained, the more lives saved.

2 Kevin149

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Search Dog Foundation is one of the greatest organizations out there. They do such a necessary task in teaching these dogs the skills to help find people in an emergency. I love that the facility is so well equipped to help these dogs prepare for any type of situation. Thank you Irma you do an amazing thing and I hope you keep it up for a long time

1

Donor

Rating: 5

The Search Dog Foundation is probably one of the best organization in the Country. First, all of their dogs are rescued from shelter, not bought from breeders. They then are trained and paired with a handler at great cost. Together a team will then be on-call to go anywhere in the world to help search for victims of all types of disasters.

1 Teresa91

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is s wonderful organization that needs our support.What would we do without then during times of crIsis. Thank you for all you do!

2

Donor

Rating: 5

National Disaster Search Dog Foundation has been our charity for 20 years. There is no higher calling than supporting rescued dogs, first responders, and no better staff, than SDF. We love you!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

National Disaster Search Dog foundation has inspired and expanded the future and the stigma of "pound" and rescue dogs, who will in return dedicate their lives to rescuing ours. Not only a win/win situation... but a save/save.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

In April 1995 retired schoolteacher and gym coach Wilma Melville and her black Labrador Retriever search dog, Murphy, rushed to the site of the terrorist bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. At that time they were one of only 15 Advanced Certified disaster search dog-handler teams in the United States, and that glaring need made Melville determined to find a way to train highly skilled canine teams. So in 1996 she founded the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation.
All of the search dogs are rescues, canines eager for a job and filled with untapped energy. The NDSDF works with dozens of shelters and breed rescue groups to place and train hundreds of dogs. The organization has deployed teams to respond to a wide range of disasters, from tornados and mudslides to building explosions and train derailments.
Working tirelessly for years the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation has raised millions of dollars, with no government funding, to build the nation's first permanent national training center for search dogs on 125 acres in the Southern California foothills.
This is an incredible organization of selfless, lifesaving individuals performing a mission to save lives across the country and around the world.
For many years I was Senior Editor of DOG FANCY magazine, and during that time I spent time with many wonderful guide dog and rescue organizations, but no organization finer than the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation.

1 Linda418

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first met Wima Melville, the founder of this Foundation, in 1996. I have followed the Search Dogs since then, and am lucky enough to finally be retired and able to be a volunteer for them. I see firsthand the dedication of all those involved in Search Dogs. Every donor is very much appreciated, no matter what amount is being donated. These Search Dogs provide such a valuable service anytime there is a major disaster. I have watched a little of their training, and these dogs are so well trained and ready to face any disaster they are sent to. This is a very worthwhile non-profit organization.