How a Top Training Facility Turns Rescued Dogs into Rescue Dogs

Search and Rescue (SAR) dogs have a very important job. Natural disaster? Fertilizer plant explosion? They're on the case. Before they became the canine equivalent of Navy SEALs, many of them were unwanted and unloved. Until they went through training at the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF), one of the most elite programs in the country.

There are 263 FEMA-certified SAR dogs in the US. Forty-three of them came from the SDF. Just how badass are they? BuzzFeed has a look:

Throw a single ball into a pit of balls and an SDF-trained pooch won't rest until she's found and returned the exact one you tossed, identifying it by the scent your hand left behind. Bury leftovers from last night's steak dinner in a pile of rubble, and she won't give it so much as a second sniff before going back to hunting down a target that's hidden somewhere else in the pile. At disaster sites, the animals work off-leash, operating with a degree of independence almost unknown even in the rarefied realm of elite working dogs. They crank out 12-hour shifts for days on end, able to distinguish between the individual scents of hundreds of rescuers working at a disaster site and that of a single victim still trapped beneath tons of debris.

And the program is more selective than Ivy League schools. Of the 223 dogs that applied in 2012, just 40 recruited. Twenty-nine failed out, eight are still in training, and just three have graduated. It's amazing what these adorable companions can do, in addition to being adorable companions. Head over to BuzzFeed for the rest. [BuzzFeed]