Rescue Dog Slated For Euthanasia Is Hero To Hurricane Harvey Victims

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
While the world watches the devastating effects on the United States from Hurricane Harvey, the unlikeliest of heroes come out of the waters, proving you can’t always judge a book by its cover.

In 2012, a young border-collie mix was placed on the euthanasia list at the Sacramento, CA SPCA. The shelter staff thought Rocket was too high-drive and obsessive to be a good family-dog and made his adoption unlikely.

Turns out that the shelter was right–Rocket was not necessarily designed to be the quintessential family dog, but Denise Sanders with the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation says that obsessive drive and energy are exactly what qualities are needed in the perfect search-and-rescue dog. The foundation adopted Rocket and started his training as soon as they could.

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But, as Denise Sanders of the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) says, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” She says energetic and obsessive behaviors are just the qualities desired in search-and-rescue dogs.

Rocket trained to be a search-and-rescue dog for eight months, and then was matched with a firefigther, Mike Stornetta. Together, the duo trained for exercises of all sorts, and became very close as they did so. Sanders said that the pair probably is together more than Mike is with his family, and their commitment led their way to earning their FEMA certification in 2015. As such, they go off with FEMA task forces as needed.

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Which was the case recently with Harvey. Mike and Rocket, along with 13 other SDF teams flew to Texas to be of help to the first responders. Their main goal is to look for living humans who may be trapped or otherwise unable to answer back for help. The waters are deep, and Sanders said that most ‘normal’ dogs wouldn’t go through the waters for much of anything, but Rocket will. Rocket’s drive for toys is what takes him through, and is what is making the difference in the lives of many who are desperate to be found and saved.

His obsession was the reason he was originally on a kill-list…and now his obsession is what is literally saving lives. Just goes to show just how much every dog has to give.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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