Most working partners are together eight hours a day, but not many are together 24/7 like Ron Weckbacher and his rescue dog Dawson.
They are members of the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, a Ventura-based nonprofit that provides training for canine-firefighter disaster search teams that seek out victims of natural disasters and terrorist attacks. Area teams, trained by the foundation, were placed on alert during last week’s heavy rains that threatened La Crescenta and La Cañada Flintridge homes, officials said.
Wilma Melville started the foundation in 1996 after she and her Federal Emergency Management Agency-certified search dog were deployed to the site of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Melville saw a need for more canine disaster search teams and designed a program to recruit dogs from animal shelters or rescue organizations and match them with firefighters.