When disaster strikes, these dedicated hard-working dogs and their handlers are ready to go where they're needed. The dogs are trained by the Santa Paula, California-based National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, which recruits rescued dogs, provides evaluation and training programs, and partners the dogs with firefighters and other emergency response team members. Once proper certification is achieved, they can be deployed to help in disaster recovery efforts, such as this summer's responses to the Texas Gulf Coast, South Florida and Mexico City.
They are trained to search wreckage, often for many hours under difficult conditions, for trapped victims in need of rescue. Some have worked tirelessly on piles of rubble, others braved rain, cold and other severe weather conditions to do their jobs. In return, the dogs might ask for a toy, tennis ball or just the approval of their handlers.
After returning from Texas, some were deployed to areas struck by hurricanes Irma and Maria. Later in September, the canines and their handlers helped search for victims following the Mexico City earthquake. Twenty-six SDF-trained teams from across the country have responded to those disasters.
Scroll down for some inspiring stories behind the dogs and their handlers. Many of the dogs were found in animal shelters, where they displayed a special set of characteristics sought for search dog work. With the right training and caring handlers, they've all found their callings.