May 19, 2013 6:15 PM by Lindsay MacLeod, KSBY News

Locally based Search Dog Foundation receives large donation for new training center

Search dogs have become a valuable tool in disaster situations, often helping search for people who have been buried alive or lost. Now, a local search dog foundation is getting some help.

The Search Dog Foundation based out of Ojai received a $150,000 donation from the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.

The money will help the foundation finish building its National Training Center project in Santa Paula. The donation will also help the foundation train and recruit even more search teams.

"These dogs need to see as many different views of training and rubble and things like that to get them accustomed to what they're going to do," said Eric Gray, a Santa Barbara County Firefighter and Paramedic.

The organization was founded back in 1996 by Wilma Melville, a retired teacher. She and her search dog were sent to help with the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995.

The organization's current teams have worked around the world, but Melville says their priority is still the Central Coast.

"We are prepared locally because, we live here folks, and we see to California first, and our local area's important," said Melville.

Construction on the new training center is set to finish late next year.



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