10 SDF Search Teams Achieve FEMA Certification!

Congratulations to all of the Canine Disaster Search Teams who achieved FEMA Certification on January 20th and 21st, including 10 SDF-trained teams!

Despite cold and windy conditions, SDF Head Trainer Sonja Heritage and Program Administrator Kate Horwick were at Del Valle Training Center in Castaic, CA, to support SDF's Search Teams testing.  It was an interesting mix of three newer Search Teams certifying for the very first time and seven veteran Search Teams achieving re-certification for continued deployment readiness.

Of the teams re-certifying, four are previously State Certified teams through Texas Task Force 2, which recently merged with FEMA endorsed Texas Task Force 1 to create the "Texas Task Force." This merging meant that the four Dallas-based SDF teams needed to pass the FEMA Certification to be able to deploy with the newly minted Texas Task Force.

The teams that Certified are:


  1. Brandon Andersen & Winnie (CA-TF7, Sacramento)
  2. Bob George & Shadow (CA-TF2, Los Angeles County)
  3. Mark Valentine & Charlie (CA-TF5, Orange County)


  1. Kristi Bartlett & Ivan (VA-TF1, Fairfax County)
  2. Derek Chaky & Scout (TX-TF, Dallas)
  3. Donovan George & Ollie (CA-TF5, Orange County)
  4. Robert Grant & Rocky (TX-TF, Dallas)
  5. Patti Krafft & Billy (TX-TF, Dallas)
  6. Trevor Lawrence & Taylor (UT-TF1, Salt Lake City)
  7. Andi Sutcliffe & Skye (TX-TF, Dallas)

We are so proud of all the teams that proved they are able to be deployed with their respective Task Forces when the call for help comes in. Over these past few months, between the 37 SDF-trained teams deployed to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and the Mexico City earthquake in September 2017, to the recent Montecito mudslides, we know these resources are sorely needed and invaluable when the unthinkable happens.

Thank you…

A big thank you goes out to Los Angeles County Fire Department (California Task Force 2) who hosted our nation’s FEMA teams over the weekend! A tremendous amount of effort, energy and manpower goes into the logistics, planning and coordination of these evaluations, held at various locations throughout the year.