Friday, June 3, 2011
In 1995, retired schoolteacher Wilma Melville and Murphy, her FEMA-certified search dog, were deployed to the site of the Oklahoma City bombing to aid in the critical search and rescue mission. Alongside six other canine teams, Melville and Murphy combed through the wreckage to seek out survivors and recover bodies of those who had perished. It was an eye-opening moment for Melville, who wondered how the United States could have just 15 search dog teams to aid in disaster response, when in a crisis the size of Oklahoma City, using all 15 could be the difference between life and death.
With this in mind, Melville returned home to California and planted the seeds that would become the National Search Dog Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to providing the most highly trained canine disaster search teams in the nation. Sixteen years and 77 deployments later, including a recent journey to tornado zone in Joplin, MO, the SDF has played a critical role in aiding rescue missions around the world.
NewsFeed spoke with Melville to find out how she turns these dogs from rescued to rescuers.