First Hand Report of Tornado Damage from Search Dog Team in Texas

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Laurel Pitman and Sonic — Texas Task Force 2

Granbury, Texas – Tornados swept across Texas last week devastating too many towns like Granbury, Texas and the lives of those who live in those towns. The tornados were barely gone when Search Dog Foundation (SDF) teams came in to help.

SDF Search teams of Keri Grant & Tucker and Laurel Pitman & Sonic (also known as Texas Task Force 2) spent hours in Granbury, Texas last week combing through hundreds of homes, ball parks and piles of debris before they were sent home for a well-earned rest.

One of the teams was out on its’ first deployment. Laurel Pitman & Sonic had been preparing for this moment since black Labrador Sonic was rescued from a Las Vegas, Nevada shelter by SDF Trainer Kate Davern. Sonic was chosen out of a thousand dogs to join the SDF program.  

Sonic’s partner, Laurel Pitman, says she was proud of Sonic.

“It was amazing to watch Sonic work on his first deployment. The first dew houses we searched were intact and had very little damage. The smells in and around the houses were all new to him. The debris field in the neighborhood was a never-ending variety of items picked up by the winds and thrown about.  It was all lying in the path for him to explore.  After three or four houses were searched, he seemed to figure out that he had a big job ahead of him. He got into a pattern that did not stop for six hours.  He systematically searched each address without hesitation. There were toys and food that would normally catch any dog’s attention, but he ignored it. He had a job to do.

Our three years of training seemed to come together in one night. Some areas we saw mobile homes that had been twisted, shredded and deposited amongst trees. He searched piles of metal, wood and furniture that hours earlier had been a home.  He ran around concrete slabs with only floor tiles attached, that outlined what had been a kitchen. The destruction that had been left in the neighborhood was an enormous task. He quickly cleared each area and would pull me to the next when he was done. He did not want a break, nor would he slow down. He searched through the night like a champ.  I was very proud of his hard work and dedication.”

Texas Task Force 2 teams with search dogs Sonic and Tucker have returned home but SDF has 17 other Search teams in Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska ready to respond in case of further tornado damage in the next few days or weeks.

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