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

Community Stories

117 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a donor as well as a volunteer for SDF for about five years now. They rely heavily on volunteers for a wide variety of tasks. This allows them to have a relatively small staff so the money donated actually goes to the cause - training dogs and humans to search for and save victims of disasters. The dogs themselves are rescued from shelters. They guarantee that dogs rescued will never go back to a shelter. They make a promise to find them a different job or a loving family if they don't make it through training. A great group of passionate people running this organization.

Previous Stories

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!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been associated with the Search Dog Foundation for 8 years working as a volunteer. The organization and its employees are top-notch. I have personally witnessed the dedicated service of and remarkable partnership between the handlers and dogs. I am glad such a stellar organization exists. Should I or a loved one have the misfortune of being a disaster victim, I have total confidence in the Search Dog Foundation.

Linda418

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been aware of the National DisasterSearch Dog Foundation since it was founded in 1996. They rescue dogs from shelters and train them to be disaster Search Dogs. I volunteer for this Foundation, and I have met the trainers and many of the handlers and the dogs. Teams have been deployed to 9/11, Haiti, Hurricane Katrina, Nepal, Japan, just to name a few. I can’t express enough how important this Foundation is to everyone. The dogs can search places that are hard for humans to get to. If I were in a disaster and wasn’t found right away, I would certainly be happy to have a dog find me! The dogs who are in training are some of the happiest dogs I’ve seen. They are well cared for while in training, and then they are paired with a fireman and they become a team and become FEMA certified. Such a worthwhile organization!

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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.

Donor

Rating: 5

The Search Dog Foundation does amazing work, transforming rescued dogs into rescuers who deploy across the nation. As global warming persists and more destruction occurs, it is fantastic to know there is an organization set out to find people alive in the wake of disasters. An all around strong mission and organization that I'm happy to support and encourage anyone to support as well.

1 MWFC

Donor

Rating: 5

The Moorpark Womens Fortnightly Club discovered a retired schoolteacher named Wilma Melville working out of her house in Ojai, CA (within the Ventura County limits which qualified our club to support an approved charity) She began to publicize Her little rescue of rescued dogs from our County Shelter & that is a gift from Above! Saving lives of dogs with too much energy for most homes. They no longer languish in a 4x6 concrete cell ~ She gave them a job to do. So, after training at what became her multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art disaster facility, we fondly remember the rainy morning in 2005 when she came with her dog Murphy to speak to our club. We became life-long fans, myself in charge of collecting donations for SDF & staying on top the the news that comes from them every day on social media. SDF trained-teams have been deployed to current Hurricane disaster zones, but they are most famous for attending 2 local disasters last year. The Montecito Mudslides & it's predesessor, the#ThomasFire which ignited within a mile of their facility. They were the first to evac, moved right into a hotel in Ventura with open arms, because the fire was bearing down & eventually captured the city & most of SDF's beloved home. The Dogs were safe, the Kennels were spared but the property & training fixtures were gone. So, the mission starts over .. be part of the Search! >..

Previous Stories

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

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This organization goes above and beyond to provide assistance to those in disaster situations. I am very familiar with them and could not be more proud to call them the best.
The staff/the handlers and we cannot forget the heroe dogs work so hard to train and provide unbelievable rescue services to those in need. They are 5 Star ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Kelly Stark L.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Beautiful, top of the line facility. The dogs are happy, well trained and well loved. I love that they use rescued dogs to become search and rescue team members.

karentfay

Donor

Rating: 5

The Search Dog Foundation has been our families' key charity for over 20 years. Their purpose is such a beautiful, and useful, concept. Simply put, all working breed & many mix-breed dogs want jobs. They live to make use of their gifts and to be loyal companions. The SDF makes sure that many, many shelter dogs get a second lease on life, wonderful care and purpose, and never go back to shelter environments. Dogs who don't make it through the full training program are placed in long-term care homes via qualified adoption (like our girl Jillaroo - now 12 years old!)
SDF staff and Board of Directors are dedicated and wonderful people.
The Fire Departments and other First Responders they provide dog partners to, and the only NotForProfit US Training Center facility, are ever grateful. While the Fire Fighters & Depts dedicate many hours to make these partnerships happen, no city or county funds are utilized. SDF covers the costs.
SDF's financial accountability is phenomenal (something we all should be checking when we donate to organizations).
Very simply, we are proud to be associated and support these brave canines and the Search Dog Foundation organization. Love you SDFers!

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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!

MaryAnne Falcone M.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Amazing, life saving work by an amazing group of people and rescue canines. So proud to have this organization in our county.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

NSDF is an amazing facility! The people behind the scenes all love what they do, and are passionate about the the mission. It’s beyond infectious, and what has kept me going back and volunteering the last 3.5 years...and I live 2hrs away. It’s my happy place!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

It's an honor to be a supporter of the National Search Dog Foundation. They rescue dogs from shelters, giving them a second chance in life. Then with the specialized training these dogs receive, they become an integral part of saving lives worldwide, in all types of disasters.

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!

1

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.

1

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.