(aka) National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, Inc.
6800 Wheeler Canyon Road
Santa Paula, CA 93060
On a cold, bleak day in March 2010, a young Golden Retriever was found cowering in the driveway of a stranger's home in Grand Junction, CO. The homeowner took the stray to the Roice-Hurst Humane Society where everyone was convinced this handsome canine must surely be someone's beloved pet.But a week went by and no one claimed him. He had kennel cough and sick as he was, they couldn't get him to sit still or stop chasing his ball. That's when the shelter manager called the Search Dog Foundation (SDF). SDF trainers were thrilled with their new recruit. "He loves everyone and he loves the search game. He's a natural!"This star candidate was named "Chief" in honor of Fire Chief Michael McGroarty, an SDF Board member who lost his battle with cancer. After six months of intensive training, Chief was partnered with Andrew Pitcher, a seasoned SDF handler based in Lincoln, NE, and they achieved State Urban Search and Rescue Alliance (SUSAR) Certification within a mere six months. Their first deployment was to Moore, OK to search for survivors, following a devastating tornado that killed 24 people and reduced thousands of homes to piles of rubble.Said Andrew of his partner Chief: "Sometimes people think a dog will perform at a lower level in a disaster due to stress, travel and the sheer scale of devastation. Chief and the other Search Dogs managed to kick things into an even higher gear, almost as if they knew the stakes. He performed well above expectations. I'm so very proud of him."