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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

130 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Our company has had the great honor to work with this wonderful organization in recognizing donors, trainers and the precious dogs who are trained to benefit our humanity in disaster search and rescue. This organization utilizes its resources with great integrity. We have seen it grow to a world-class facility thanks to the leaders, trainers, and volunteers involved and the generosity of the many compassionate donors.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation responds quickly to disasters throughout the country and around the globe, sending highly trained dogs and their handlers to search for survivors. I'm very impressed with this organization and the commitment of all those involved in this important work.

Review from Guidestar

Donor

Rating: 5

We have been evolved with the SDF early on. Our donated dollars are very well spent. Much thought has gone into the organation. How much better can it get from rescuing dogs and giving them a job to rescue people caught in a disaster?
Our heart felt appreciation goes out to all the team at SDF..dogs included!
God bless, the Courson family

Review from Guidestar

Donor

Rating: 5

I discovered SDF through another website and was so impressed with their mission I immediately knew I had to donate towards their "cause". The idea of helping in searches while saving dogs at the same time stole my heart as I am huge into rescuing. As I have mentioned to them, I also donate to the ASPCA and HSUS and nothing annoys me more to then receive things I don't want, i.e. address labels, calendars, shoelaces, mittens, etc. It makes me wonder how much of what I gave goes to the organization. When I received a phone call from Debra after my first donation thanking me, I was more than surprised. I knew then that this was an organization I would continue to donate to. And, then receiving just a thank you note and a bookmark was perfectly fine with me although I do also enjoy the update emails. I will continue with my donations thanks to their good deeds!

Review from Guidestar

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I am continually amazed at the gratitude that National Disaster Search Dog Foundation responds with every time I am able to make a donation - no matter what size of a donation that is! Their personal response tells me that they truly deserve my support.

I first found the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation after the 9/11 tragedy and was (and still am) touched and impressed by what the search teams do for many across our country and abroad. I promise that I will continue to support their wonderful work and will keep spreading the word about Search Dog Foundation.

Bless you!
Melissa McGarry - Minnesota

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I just can't say enough expressing how amazing SDF is! I first heard about SDF after 911 and have followed their work since. I was so excited that their office is in Ojai was able to visit a few times. Working with SDF became my "dream job" and goal . I started out going to all their special events and got to know Wilma, she is a incredible lady and knows how to make her dreams come true. My life changed forever when I found out that The National Training Center was going to be built not only here in Santa Paula but right across the road from where I live !! I was so excited and it has been so incredible watching NTC being built. 2 years ago our family adopted Calvin a black lab who just wasn't thrilled about a rubble pile and looking for a lifetime care home. SDF has always kept in touch and even sent out trainer Lyz Gregory to work with me and Calvin. I needed a lot more training than Calvin did! Well that did it, after seeing Lyz work with Calvin I was so impressed that I was determined to volunteer as often as I could. Lyz invited me to NTC , everyone was so friendly and really cared about the dogs . I saw my "dream job" !
For the last year I have volunteered once or twice a week to help out where I can. I have learned so much just being around Sonja and Lyz. They are the best! I have also taken many ,many photos of the dogs and I am so pleased to see some of the photos in SDF publications and Facebook . Everyone , trainers, office staff and fellow volunteers always make me feel like family and appreciated. They are the most professional and caring people I know. Thanks SDF for helping me live my dream !

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

About eighteen months ago two of our three dogs, died a week apart. We were very sad and our third dog, George, became severely depressed. He would not eat or go for a walk or play with any dogs at the dog park. Soon we realized we had to find him a new friend. We told George that he could have any dog he wanted ; it was his choice.. We went around to several shelters and introduced him to a few dogs. Sometimes he growled at them. Other times he actually turned his back.
Then he met Topa who had begun training with the Search Dog Foundation, but was unable to complete her training. It was love at first sight and, today a year and a half later, they are still inseparable!
The search foundation has continued to be involved with Topa, sending food coupons and regularly keeping in touch. In the beginning when our high energy girl was difficult on walks, they even sent a trainer to help us. We still keep a close eye on her around strangers, but we live on both coasts and Topa is doing just fine living in two places and staying in different motels every night when on the road.
She seems happiest on our farm in CT, where she runs across the fields at full speed. We still keep a close eye on her around strangers, but this beautiful, playful dog enriches our lives every day and has many canine and human friends.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was first told about SDF through my College. They said the Search Dog Foundation occasionally needed volunteer photographers and since I just graduated and love dogs I decided to try it out. Honestly I had no idea who they were and what they were about until I went to my first volunteer event. It was great fun but also very structured and informative. The staff was all very friendly and seeing the dogs in action was amazing. I have now photographed several events for them. They also asked me to join their team in Ojai and now I'm officially part of the SDF staff. I've gotten to know all of them and they are all very nice and hard workers. I have also been to pairings, when the dogs get paired with their new handlers, and that is one of the best things to see. I've interacted with several candidate dogs and they are all high energy, very barky but also very friendly and some of the sweetest dogs out there. I've also met the trainers who are very amazing. And I have met some of the people behind the scenes and of course Wilma the founder, who is something else. Very funny, lively and sweet. She also knows what she wants and how to get it. The Search Dog Foundation is truly an amazing organization.

Donor

Rating: 5

I was first introduced to the Search Dog Foundation several years ago and have had the distinct privilege of meeting Wilma,many of the staff,trainers,handlers and dogs on several different occasions. I could not be any more impressed with the dedication and hard work of all those involved. From the early days of recruitment to the ultimate pairing of dogs with their human partners,there is an enormous amount of work that is done by a rather small work force. i have never seen an organization with the drive and desire to accomplish what these amazing men and women have done and continue to do on a daily basis. I am very proud to be "part of the search"!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked off and on volunteering with SDF, taking a break when I had school. Every time I came in they were ready for me with clear instructions and materials organised, and waiting for my help. I always felt appreciated and a part of the team even though my tasks were so minimal. On several occasions I had to cancel or was late for my volunteer time and I was never met with any disappointment, only understanding and appreciation for whatever time I could give. Everyone in the office is friendly and welcoming. I learned a lot about the role of the SDF and was surprised at the amount of personal care that is given to each individual involved in the program.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

It has been my pleasure to partner with SDF for the last 2 years. Our two organizations partner together to identify dogs that will either make great search dogs or when a career change is called for become great service dogs.
It has been an honor to work with SDF, even though our missions are different we both have the same purpose, SDF by finding those lost in a disaster and Operation Freedom Paws , by helping those lost to trauma return to everyday life.
So that others may live.

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My company Smart Technology Enablers, Inc., has supported the organization's computers and networks for almost 10 years. Through that time we have watched the organization grow and mature. We enjoy working with them because they have a well-defined decision making process and always consider the business impact of the technology decisions.

Staff members have amazing commitment to the mission of the organization. We have personally witnessed how that commitment is infectious for both volunteers and donors. They are uniformly upbeat with an admirable "can-do" attitude.

The depth of the program side of the organization is impressive as they shepherd their search dogs through the recruitment process, training, certification and finally pairing with a first responder.

They are really one of the hardest working organization we know.

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Having recently heard National Search Dog founder Wilma Melville's story about creating the Foundation, I want to say I am so impressed by this woman! She spoke of her organization's role in the Oklahoma bombings as well as 911 and the Haiti earthquake. At the time of Oklahoma, there were many fewer organizations like hers and since then she has worked tirelessly to grow the organization into the leader it is today. Maybe what impressed me most was Wilma's dedication, even through the horrors and tragedy that are part and parcel of the job. Obviously the NSDF has no interest in the whys behind such disasters. It's all about people---and dogs!----helping people. Seems to me there are few such non-profits whose contribution to the general public are as vital and clear cut as is NSDF.

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I first became acquainted with the NDSDF about 2 years ago, when my family was looking to adopt a dog. Through petfinder.com, we discovered Buster, a black lab who had been adopted from a shelter by NDSDF 5 months earlier. Unfortunately, due to issues with his size (BIG!) and knee problems, he was put into their Lifetime Care program, where he is carefully placed in with a family for the remainder of his life. We adopted Buster in August 2012 and the NDSDF have been an incredible part of al our lives since then! They were great at making sure Buster was adjusting to "civilian" life, helping with his double-knee surgery, and offering tremendous support all the way around.. It has been wonderful for us to learn about the mission of this amazing organization, and we love telling Buster - and NDSDF's story!!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I was paired with Roxy 1 year ago, I never in a million years thought I'd be as happy as I am to get to work with her every day. Roxy was a stray in the Sacramento area, when someone found her and took her in, only to find that she had too much energy to be a normal pet. She was surrendered to a shelter, and as she was in line to be "put down", one of the great recruiters at the NDSDF found her to be a great fit as a search dog. She was taken to Gilroy, trained, and I was lucky enough to be paired with her. 10 months later, and with countless hours of training with the NDSDF staff and with other handlers in the Los Angeles area, we passed our certification test, so we can be ready to respond to any disaster.
The NDSDF is an incredible organization, that takes rescues formally discarded canines and trains them rescue men, women and children during these incredible disasters we only see on TV. Without the staff and volunteers at the NDSDF, Roxy would be wondering the streets of Sacramento, holed up in someones back yard, or worse yet, be put to sleep like the many other unclaimed pets in the country.

Review from Guidestar

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first became acquainted with NSDF at an event in CA, where I got to meet a couple of handlers and dogs. I was so impressed by the organization that I followed it for years, subscribed to the newsletter, and watched it grow from afar, into a the wonderful, thriving organization it is today. Recently, I've become more engaged, by writing and volunteering and helping where I can, and can't express enough how exciting and fulfilling it is to be part of such a wonderful group of people doing such amazing things. When speaking with founder, Wilma Melville, her passion for NSDF is just so palpable. Her energy and the vision she has for the continued growth of the organization so that it can broaden its reach ever further, helping out more and more people at every possible opportunity, is infectious. I am continually proud and grateful to be a part in even a small way, of NSDF.

Review from Guidestar

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.

Donor

Rating: 5

What can I do but echo all of the wonderful things that have already been said here? Like many others, I discovered SDF right after the Twin Towers attack while searching for an organization in need of support. For my late husband and I, both animal lovers, the dogs were the only bright spot in the incredibly disturbing footage of the disaster. Reports of bogus non-profits were already circulating, but SDF stood out like a shining star. I have since become a huge fan and, while my budget does not allow equally huge donations, I am still treated like donor royalty. I have worked in non-profits and know that staff is usually small with volunteers picking up a big part of the work load. It is always amazing and gratifying to receive such immediate, heartfelt and personal acknowledgement of my semi-annual donations and frequent feedback. I am privileged to have communicated via email with The Terrific Trio.....Wilma, Debra and Rhett......on a regular basis and consider them dear friends. What Wilma has accomplished continues to boggle the mind, and I'm sure she still hasn't peaked. SDF and its people are a class act. The organization should be used as the template for re-organizing existing non-profits and starting up new ones.
Juanita in NJ

Review from Guidestar

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

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

You've got to see it to believe it. . . You've got to talk with the founder, a woman that at 65, had a dream to be more effective in rescuing people in disaster situations. . . to know how tremendously effective this relatively new program is in it's outreach, now receiving international requests as well, and without tax dollars. Most of the dogs in the program have been rescued from shelters themselves and are trained for 3 years to then become rescuers, heroes, ambassadors of life. . . You've got to see it to believe it. Well organized, highly efficient in outlay and true to purpose, the program trains dogs who are then GIVEN to firefighters and other search and rescue groups, WITHOUT CHARGE. You've got to see it to believe it.

Review from CharityNavigator

Nicole Marie S.

Donor

Rating: 5

The National Search Dog Foundation is committed to strengthening disaster response in America through the recruitment and training of search dog teams – it’s a mission that Woodmen of the World stands behind and supports, as we’ve been providing relief for natural disasters since 1900.

Every person that we came in contact with at the SDF shared a passion and love for the work they do – and that passion was passed to our associates, families and friends. We’ve been truly amazed at the talent and abilities of both the trainers and their search dogs! We look forward to seeing what great things they have planned for the future.

Review from CharityNavigator

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

1

Donor

Rating: 5

My employer has an employee charitable contribution campaign each year. There are several animal charities to select for contributions. I want you to know that in the past two years, I changed the animal organization to which I donated twice because the last two organizations never acknowledged my donations. I contributed every month for a full year, and never heard even a basic "Thank You" from them.

This year, I changed my donation once again, and selected SDF, although I was unfamiliar with the organization. Shortly after the first donation, I received a most impressive letter co-authored by the SDF Executive Director, Debra Tosch, and one of their SDF Search Dog Candidates, Crockett! Crockett's paw print was in the signature line of the letter. After I wiped our 17-year-old daughter's, my wife's and my eyes, I committed to contributing to this organization from now on.

Just this simple acknowledgement meant so much and the personality of the organization's leadership won our hearts. I am very convinced of SDF's value to the Search & Rescue Community. However, I am also now convinced of the quality and personability of the organizations's staff.

I recommend everyone to look into contributing to this great organization!

Review from CharityNavigator

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

In working with the NDSDF Staff and Board of Directors, it is clearly evident that everyone involved in this organization, including the Search Dog Teams and Volunteers has a devotion to duty beyond any I have ever had the privilege of meeting. I am Blessed and Honored to say that I am Part of the Search.

Review from CharityNavigator

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been making gifts to this organization for about 10 years. They are wonderful, dedicated people from top to bottom and they are excellent stewards of their donor contributions. I am delighted to see them earn the top 4 star rating from Charity Navigator.

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

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Sacramento SPCA has had the pleasure of working with the National Search Dog Foundation (SDF) for the past two years to successfully place a dozen dogs with their organization. SDF is a joy to work with; their staff is organized and quite helpful in our efforts to place difficult dogs.
We often receive dogs that are not easily placed. They are often very focused and driven canines who can be difficult to manage in a typical family home environment. We are confident placing any dog with SDF as we know that even if they do not successfully make it through all of the search dog training; they will be placed in a permanent, responsible and loving home.
The Sacramento SPCA is proud to partner with SDF and look forward to many more years of working together to help change the lives of both dogs and people.
-Lizz Westphal, Rescue Coordinator, Sacramento SPCA

Donor

Rating: 5

SDF is the only organization in the United States that partners rescued dogs with firefighters and trains them at no cost to the government or tax-payers.
It's a win-win situation all the way. This organization receives no help what so ever from the Government.

Previous Stories
1

Donor

Rating: 5

I wanted to find a non-profit organization I could donate to after the tragedy of 9/11. National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, Inc. was a perfect choice for me because I love the fact this organization is a double blessing in that first the dog is rescued, then people are rescued. SDF ensures lifetime care for every dog in their program. Once a rescued dog is accepted into SDF's program, that dog will never need to be rescued again. SDF's 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. This organization also offers the professionally trained canines an ongoing training program at no cost to fire departments.

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I can not begin to express how the SDF has changed out lives. The people at the foundation are truly amazing. We adopted one of thier "retired" dogs and he changed our lives for ever. He is trully an amazing dog. The work that the SDF put into making sure he got adopted was just amazing. As we have gotten to know more about SDF we fall more in love with the dogs, team, and everything it represents.

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.

Donor

Rating: 5

If I had more to give, or could personally give my time and effort to this group, I would. Without question, humble, smart, dedicated and extremely gracious for any and all support. SDF does not inundate you with immediate requests, instead, they thank you appropriately and communicate when the time is right and needed. It makes you feel like you are actually working with them and the dogs, and not just a check book for the day to day. I save my thank you letters with paw prints and actual hand notes and signatures. I only wish to never have to be face to face with one of the life saving teams they build, and in the event I'd be in a rescue needing that dedication, four paws, a wet nose, with one goal to work and save, would be awesome.

Review from CharityNavigator

Donor

Rating: 5

The NSDF is an exceptional organization. Its commitment to rescuing dogs, partnered with first responders and trained to save lives is truly inspiring. In 2012, my husband and I became sponsors of two Search Teams in Texas. Our contribution has been so warmly and graciously acknowledged by both the corporate office and the Search Team handlers. We will continue to support the fine efforts of the NSDF and look forward to tracking the development of our Sponsoree Dogs.

saabitbol

Donor

Rating: 5

National Search Dog Foundation is a model nonprofit that really understands how to communicate and engage their customers. My family adopted a dog from their Lifetime Care program and have also been donors. They consistently and effectively keep in touch with us, they care about the dogs that have been connected to the foundation and they run an extremely effective nonprofit. I would highly recommend NSDF -- as a donor, a customer, and a community member. NSDF is truly top-notch.

Review from CharityNavigator

Rachel46

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Last year I adopted a dog from the Search Dog Foundation's Lifetime Care program. I have been SO pleased with the newest member of my family! Steve the dog is a true star and even after failing to complete the search dog program, he is a real hero to me! Having worked with the incredibly skilled trainers at NSDF to gain his skill at basic obedience, he has been a joy to work with as we move forward in training for both of us. I feel like the staff at NSDF took the time to find me the perfect match as I have waited a long time to take this step again after losing my dog Buddy Blue 7 years ago. I HIGHLY recommend the Lifetime Care program to anyone who is looking to adopt a well balanced, sweet, loving friend. Thanks so much for the love of my life, Steve the dog!!

Review from CharityNavigator

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer with The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation for several years. I do my volunteering over the internet (proofreading & editing), so I don't get to see the other volunteers or the staff or the Search Dog-Handler Teams very often. But when I do see them in action -- whether in-person or on the news -- I am glad they are there to rescue people when disaster strikes. When I read of their hard work -- in an email alert from a deployment or on the Search Dog Foundation's Facebook page -- I am glad to be part of such an amazing group and I am glad to help them as they work so hard to help us all.

Review from CharityNavigator

Board Member

Rating: 5

As a donor, volunteer and now a board member, my relationship with the Search Dog Foundation started shortly after the tragic 9/11 events. I worked with the founder Wilma Melville and current Executive Director, Debra Tosch in creating a database of the multitude of people who discovered the existence of the SDF during those events. Over the years, my involvement has continued to grow both as a donor and now as a board member. The SDF is an exemplary organization due largely to a phenomenally dedicated staff that never loses site of the goal of rescuing dogs and training them to rescue people. They are more mission focused than any organization I have supported. I will continue to support their efforts as we move forward in quest of making sure that when disaster strikes no one will be left behind.

Donor

Rating: 5

My son has adopted shelter dogs, so I know he will appreciate a donation in his honor to the Search Dog Foundation, an organization that provides an important tool for to assist humans when natural disasters strike. We support the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation because we know that many dog owners across the country qualify their own animals as search and rescue dogs as well as companion canines. The more search dogs that are trained, the better off we are.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

Donor

Rating: 5

The NDSDF is one of the most admirable charitable organizations I have had the pleasure of working with. The staff of the NDSDF is professional, dedicated and hardworking, and strives, on a daily basis, to maintain their goal of excellence. Their effort and support during disasters is invaluable.

Review from CharityNavigator

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I love dogs. I was raised with dogs in the home and cannot imagine my life without them. When I was introduced to the Search Dog Foundation 6 years ago, and discovered the foundation rescues these wonderful animals from shelters and trains them to become rescuers, I was hooked! I have attended several events where I have witnessed demos of the teams in action... amazing! I have become acquainted with the foundation staff, volunteers and some of the Search Teams. Their dedication and passion is inspiring. The Search Dog Foundation will forever be my charity of choice.

Review from CharityNavigator

dogtripper

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've volunteered for the SDF for 6 years, writing articles and photographing events and dog trainings. It has been my overall experience that every staff person, handler and dog has shown a high level of commitment and compassion. I love these folks! I will continue to support their efforts in whatever way needed for a very long time. They show integrity and inspiration all the way!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the honor of being a volunteer with the Search Dog Foundation since 2001. Like everyone else on September 11th, I was glued to the TV as the events unfolded. And again like so many others, I was deeply touched by the actions of the search dogs and their firefighter partners. I had to find out more about them and my quest led me to the discovery of the SDF. I was compelled to be part of the organization that brought together both two and four-legged heroes. In my over 10 years of involvement my respect has deepened. My family sponsored Aspen (since retired after a stellar career) and couldn't have been prouder to tell the world about our latest addition! Witnessing the love that exists between firefighter and canine; knowing they are there for each other and for victims of disasters, tugs at my heart in a way that nothing else has ever done.

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1 Heidi19

Donor

Rating: 5

I am one of the canine recruiters on staff for SDF. It is tremendously fulfilling to meld my personal passion for animal rescue with community service, and to be involved with this organization.

I became involved with SDF many years ago while volunteering in the Labrador Retriever Rescue community, finding potential search dog candidates while visiting animal shelters. I became an estate donor after the passing of my husband. And I joined staff in the summer of the same year, giving my life new purpose. My late husband was extremely involved in, and supportive of my rescue endeavors, so in many ways my work honors his memory.

SDF is a lean organization, accomplishing much with a small paid staff and a wonderful army of volunteers. The vision is clear and there is much to do to recruit and train enough search dogs to meet the needs of the disasters that will inevitably come. I can’t encourage anyone enough to support our foundation. What a meaningful way to assure your legacy…and possibly save someone’s life.

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1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

In looking for a charity to give in the name of my grandchildren, (instead of birthday gifts that they do not need), this organization stood out as the best of all the ones of the I considered. And it was the four star rating they had from Charity Navigator that convinced me to donate. The office staff was wonderful and my grandkids are thrilled. A great organization!

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2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a Search Dog Foundation (SDF) volunteer for the past 6.5 years, I have seen this organization grow by leaps and bounds. Its mission to rescue high-energy dogs from shelters and breed rescues, train them to be rescuers, and then give these extraordinary canines to firefighters and other first responders is the reason I became involved -- it mirrored my fallen colleague's passions -- giving to others and her love of dogs. With support from court reporters across America, the Julie Brandau Community Service Memorial has sponsored six SDF canines to date, and our memorial continues to thrive! The Foundation's staff is a lean, hard-working, dedicated group who are always there to cheer us on in our quest to keep Julie's memory alive. The Foundation's mission to strengthen America's disaster response network -- at no cost to fire departments -- is a noble one, and they've proven to me that they're a great nonprofit!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I recently found out about this organization through their "Pledge" and was so touched by it: "If you are ever buried under a ton of rubble, trapped where no one can find you, or caught in the aftermath of a storm, I promise to sniff you out... I promise to never give up." What an amazing job these dog have.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

After my decision to make a donation to this truly amazing foundation for what they accomplish everyday in the rescuing of canines & training these amazing animals to rescue lives when disaster strikes, I was very impressed to first receive a "Thank You" Letter for my donation followed by a "Thank You" phone call by one of their wonderful Volunteers ! Not only was this a nice surprise to be thanked for what I did more than once, it was almost shocking also never to be pressured to send more... This is an organization that does more than words can express, thanks to its Founder Wilma Melville and her vision to see a winning situation and make it happen.... Judy H.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a recent volunteer for the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation and consider it an honor to be involved in such an important and inspirational cause, but I have become even more impressed with the staff and their high level of commitment and work ethic. Wilma Melville is truly a visionary hero and her love and respect for dogs carries through in every aspect of this operation. One of my favorite things about coming here to volunteer is being around all the dogs that are pets of the staff that they bring to work with them. My idea of heaven! With such a big undertaking to raise the funds for the National Training Center, it's so heartwarming to see how even the smallest donation is met with such enthusiasm. I've never met such a dedicated and nice group of people.

Ann_234

Donor

Rating: 5

Our family has been a supporter of Search Dogs for several years even before 9-11. We absolutely adore the mission of Search Dogs and are very pleased and proud to support such a wonderful organization.

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Board Member

Rating: 5

As a donor and member of the Board of Directors, I fully support the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation mission of producing the most highly trained canine disaster search teams in the nation. The process of identifying canine candidates, pairing them with the right handler, training the team for certification, and providing lifetime care is a challenging and complex endeavor. Following the vision of its founder, Wilma Melville, and under the guidance of its Excutive Director, Debra Tosch, the tremendous NDSDF staff operates with efficiency and effectiveness in carrying out this mission.

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General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The NDSDF is one of the most effective charitable organizations in the US. Its founder, Wilma Melville, truly is an American hero, as recognized by CNN, for her pioneering vision of matching rescued dogs with rescuers. The NDSDF also is a great example of partnership between private charity and public safety agencies, and should serve as a model for public-private cooperation in other areas. Like so many other people, I watched the search dogs at work during 9/11 and wondered what an ordinary person could do to help. The NDSDF was the answer. Since then, NDSDF dog and handler teams have responded to disasters around the world, and continue to add teams. The expansion and continued success of the NDSDF is proof that contributions are put to excellent use, and have produced priceless results. The staff of the NDSDF is professional, dedicated and hardworking, and I am proud to continue to support their outstanding efforts.

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Donor

Rating: 5

Thank you SDF, for a respectful and inspiring 9 11 memorial event. It is evident by the number of handlers and search dogs now based in multiple states, in a relatively short time, that SDF is utilizing contributions in a focused manner, and in direct support of the SDF mission statement: 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.
Thank you SDF for all of your efforts, and making possible first responders partnered with trained search dogs for our country.
I am honored to be a part of the search. Jamie/Donor and Volunteer

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1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I've known of this fantastic organization since it's inception, as I live in the Ojai Valley where its offices are based. I've followed the agency's growth and progress over the years and have been very impressed with how they have taken one person's vision and successfully created a world-class nonprofit that is truly making a difference in this world. The founder and staff have an excellent reputation in the community. Their mission is simple and powerful - to save lives. They achieve a double win as they not only save lives, but their search dogs are rescued from animal shelters. Way to go Search Dogs!!!

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