By Janet Reineck
WHAT: Event honoring the Canine-Firefighter Search Teams deployed to Ground Zero
WHEN: Sunday, September 11, 2011 – 10:30am to 2:30pm (5:46am Bell Ceremony and reading of the names of the fallen firefighters)
WHERE: Search Dog Foundation National Training Center – 6800 Wheeler Canyon Road – Santa Paula, CA 93060 (90 minutes north of Los Angeles)
ABBY: 9/11 CANINE HERO
On September 11, 2001, thirteen Canine Disaster Search Teams trained by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) were deployed to Ground Zero to search for survivors. The deployment posed the most challenging search environment our teams had ever faced. Their high-level training enabled them to safely search acres of twisted steel and debris 12 hours a day for 10 days straight.
Debra Tosch was one of the handlers deployed on September 11th. Her dog Abby is the last remaining SDF Search Dog who served at Ground Zero. After 9/11, Debra and Abby deployed to a number of disasters, including Hurricane Katrina and the La Conchita mudslide. As one of the nation’s most highly skilled Search Dogs, Abby helped train many SDF Canine Search Specialists, showing them “how it’s done” as they prepared to receive their own rescued dog…turned rescuer. As Executive Director of the Search Dog Foundation and a former handler, Debra speaks with expert knowledge and deep emotion about the deployment and about the field of Canine Disaster Search in our country.
On September 11, 2011, Debra and Abby and 50 other SDF Search Teams (including 9 of the handlers who deployed to 9/11) will be on hand when the Search Dog Foundation pauses to remember those who perished in the disaster and pay tribute to the firefighters and their extraordinary canine partners who continue to risk their lives to save others. We will also commemorate the 27 SDF Search Dogs who have passed over the Rainbow Bridge after years of service to the country.
The event will take place at the site of the SDF’s NATIONAL TRAINING CENTER. Currently there are no permanent training sites for disaster search, no home for America’s Search Teams. The Search Dog Foundation is building a facility where rescued dogs are trained to become rescuers, and where all of the nation’s Search Teams receive the advanced training needed for the most perilous disaster deployments. The NTC is a must-do, can-to project—a gift to the nation built with contributions from people across the country who appreciate the human-canine bond in service to humanity.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 9/11 EVENT (Pacific Time)
5:46 am: At the exact moment American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, our firefighter-handlers, Board and special guests will gather at a “Bell Ceremony” to read the names of the 343 firefighters who lost their lives in the disaster.
7:00 am: At sunrise we will plant a “Tree of Life” to forever honor these fallen heroes. This will be followed by breakfast and a chance to speak with our firefighter-handlers while staff and volunteers ready the day.
9:30 am: Official check-in begins. Guests are invited to take a hayride or trolley tour of the property, meet our Search Teams, and explore all that’s new in Tier 1 of the Training Center.
10:30 am: The event gets underway with a demonstration of agility, obedience and search skills by more than 40 SDF Teams – representing the largest gathering of Canine Disaster Search Teams in SDF’s history.
12:00 pm: Lunch and satellite call-ins from New York.
1:00 pm: A gathering at the Canine Memorial where we will hear from handlers deployed to Ground Zero and honor 27 Search Dogs who have “passed over the Rainbow Bridge.”
2:00 pm: After sharing in the solemnity of this remembrance, an old-fashioned Ice Cream Social will cap off the day in celebration of the Search Team supporters who are helping to create a home for America’s Search Teams.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL DISASTER SEARCH DOG FOUNDATION (SDF)
The Search Dog Foundation is a nonprofit whose mission is to strengthen emergency response in America by teaming rescued dogs with firefighters to find people trapped in the wreckage of disasters.
Since its founding in 1996, SDF has rescued hundreds of dogs, many on the brink of euthanasia, and turned them into highly skilled rescuers. They have trained 131 Search Teams, 72 of which are currently active. Their teams have responded to 80 disasters, including the World Trade Center attack, Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti and Japan earthquakes, and the Joplin, MO tornado.
SDF will train 20 new teams in 2011 at a cost of $15,000 per team to be ready for the next local, national or international disaster. SDF receives no government funding and relies solely on support from individuals, private foundations, and companies to provide this critical resource at no cost to fire departments or taxpayers. SDF is the only organization in America that provides this resource in this way.
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