Foster parents sought for
future search dogs
by Lenny Roberts
Few things in life are as cuddly or adorable as a puppy. Make
it a Labrador puppy, and the odds for adoption and a long, healthy
and happy relationship between man and animal increase dramatically.
The Ojai-based National Disaster Search Dog Foundation is looking
for foster parents for three such canines who, at 8 weeks old,
have yet to be named.
"These are wonderful little puppies that we've accepted
into our program," said Lori Mohr, NDSDF board member and
volunteer. "The problem is, they need to grow first. We
don't send them off to training until they're about a year old.
Consequently, we are looking for short-term homes here in Ojai
where these pups could grow and thrive. They are quality canines
that would no doubt be a joy for many families."
NDSDF K-9 coordinator Miki Klocke explained that families are
needed to adopt the puppies to provide a loving home environment
while the dogs are in puppy school to qualify for extensive training
at the Sundowners Training Kennel in Gilroy, Calif.
"Families who provide for short-term homes for the puppies
have the responsibilities of providing a safe, indoor home and
extensive socializing in and around Ojai," Klocke said.
"We want them to meet and greet people and dogs and be subject
to environmental things, such as noises, grates in streets and
metal bleachers - things that they can encounter as puppies that
they might get into as disaster search dogs. The more things
they encounter, the better they're prepared."
The responsibilities also include attending obedience classes
with their foster dog. The NDSDF covers all pet care costs except
food, which is provided by Nutro. Foster parents must agree to
house their dog for approximately six months, and have first
option of permanent adoption in the event a dog is not properly
suited to become certified. Klocke added that a strict application
process and in-home and yard inspections are mandatory before
foster parents can be considered. Kids and other animals are
welcome, and may actually help the student puppies become more
readily acclimated to early training.
Thacher Road resident Wilma Melville began the NDSDF after she
and her dog, Murphy Black, participated in the grisly task of
uncovering bodies from the rubble that once was the Federal Building
in Oklahoma City. Since then, dogs that have been certified through
the program have been deployed to many sites, including the Sept.
11 World Trade Center catastrophe.
The three pups in need of foster homes were a donation from Guide
Dogs of America, and born at its Sylmar national headquarters
in late February. The nonprofit organization primarily provides
guide dogs and instructions to blind and visually impaired men
and women in the United States and Canada, but has provided 15
potential search dog candidates to the NDSDF in the last few
years. According to Klocke, all but two of the candidates provided
by GDA are either still in training or have been certified as
advanced or basic search dogs.
By the time a dog is fully certified, the NDSDF has made an $8,000
investment, generated through fund-raising activities and donations.
Certified dogs are provided to California firefighters and others
at no cost.
To apply to become a NDSDF foster parent or to make a donation,
call 646-1015. To learn more about or to contribute to the NDSDF,
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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ARE NEEDED for three search dog puppies, including these two