|Posted by azsearchdogs on November 22, 2011 at 12:45 AM|
By: Imani Randolph
PHOENIX - When disaster strikes, emergency personnel will often turn to our canine friends to rescue survivors and get them out of harm's way.
FEMA requires that these dogs have Disaster Preparedness Certification .
Once they pass, the dogs and their handlers can be called upon to help local emergency personnel, assist in rescues for a national disaster and even help during an international crisis.
The evaluation, put on by AZ-TF1, includes a test of K-9 obedience, agility, alert behavior, and handler skill.
Some dogs begin their rescue careers as 8-week-old puppies, others come from rescue shelters.
To become a Disaster Search Dog doesn’t take a specific breed, just an energetic dog, commitment, 2,000 hours of training and completion of a test like the one administered at the Phoenix Fire Special Operations Saturday.
Mac is a dog that came to the Phoenix Search and Rescue Task Force from the Arizona Humane Society.
Mac and 23 other dogs were put through a test that involved searching 15,000 square foot rubble sites to find victims who had been buried alive.
They had to ignore distractions like food, clothing and toys.
Just one false alert meant they failed the test.
Mac had to retake the test and passed this time around. His handler says help from dogs like Mac is invaluable.
“They're our partners and they're with us for the rest of their lives and personally I think we're the ones that are blessed," Don Peyton added.