SDF-Trained Search Teams Assist After Deadly California Mudslides

Our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones and those affected by this disaster. We are grateful for the rescuers, both two- and four-legged, on the ground during this time of great need.

Thank you for supporting our teams to prepare them for this deployment and thank you for being Part of the Search!

TUESDAY, JANUARY 16, 2018

A week after deadly mudslides devastated the beachside community of Montecito, CA, 18 Canine Disaster Search Teams trained by SDF are returning home, exhausted but confident they completed their mission.

These incredible Search Dogs and Handlers searched tirelessly despite immense challenges with debris, rock and mud covering much of the approximately 30 square miles affected by last week's torrential downpour and ensuing mudslides. With 20 people confirmed dead, and three still missing, authorities decided on Sunday evening to transition to recovery operations and cease rescue efforts.

Our teams did everything they could to help rescue victims trapped in the mud, and sometimes their own homes, as well as give closure and comfort to families and rescuers alike.

"This is what we train for. This is what we are meant to do. It's never easy when you're dealing with a disaster of this magnitude, but Decker and I are in this together. We work as a team to be sure we give it our all. I couldn't ask for a better partner - I'm pretty sure I needed him during this deployment more than he needed me."

- Brent Brainard, Handler of Search Dog Decker

As our teams return home, they bring with them lessons and experiences that will prove invaluable for future deployments.  We at SDF will incorporate these lessons into our program, assuring that the next generation of Search Dogs and the active Search Teams trained by SDF are fully prepared to search for survivors in the wake of disasters like this.

The full SDF roster of Search Teams, who deployed to Montecito along with their Task Force teammates from throughout California, is:
 
REGIONAL TASK FORCE 3 (Long Beach Fire)
Wade Haller & Rex
 
REGIONAL TASK FORCE 10 (Orange County Fire Authority)
Davis Doty & Jester
Donovan George & Ollie
Sonja Heritage & Asta
Doug Van Iwaarden & Sadie
 
REGIONAL TASK FORCE 12 (Santa Barbara County Fire)
Eric Gray & Riley
 
CANINE SEARCH MISSION READY PACKAGE THROUGH OES
Los Angeles County Fire

Jake Armendariz & Clancy
Dennis Clark & Rugby
Dennis DiMarzio & Ty
Jason Dobbins & Diva
Josh Flores & Cajun
Manny Sampang & Eva

Los Angeles Fire
Eric Ingstad & Java
Cynthia Sato & Roxy

Windsor Fire
Mike Stornetta & Rocket

Sacramento Airport Fire
Eric Lieuwen & Jake

San Diego Fire-Rescue/Heartland Fire
Brent Brainard & Decker
Matt Kirk & Stella

FRIDAY, JANUARY 12, 2018

Just over 48 hours since a wall of mud and debris slammed into homes in the town of Montecito, CA, there are now 18 SDF-trained Canine Disaster Search Teams in action around-the-clock searching for survivors. This deployment marks the largest number of SDF teams deployed to one disaster, in one place, since 2005 during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Sadly, the number of confirmed deaths continues to rise, currently at 17, with many more still missing.

The Search Teams, along with their Task Force teammates from throughout California, continue to comb the debris and slog through the mud to ensure that no one is left behind.:

REGIONAL TASK FORCE 3 (Long Beach Fire)
Wade Haller & Rex

REGIONAL TASK FORCE 10 (Orange County Fire Authority)
Davis Doty & Jester
Donovan George & Ollie
Sonja Heritage & Asta
Doug Van Iwaarden & Sadie

REGIONAL TASK FORCE 12 (Santa Barbara County Fire)
Eric Gray & Riley

CANINE SEARCH MISSION READY PACKAGE THROUGH OES
Los Angeles County Fire

Jake Armendariz & Clancy
Dennis Clark & Rugby
Dennis DiMarzio & Ty
Jason Dobbins & Diva
Josh Flores & Cajun
Manny Sampang & Eva

Los Angeles Fire
Eric Ingstad & Java
Cynthia Sato & Roxy

Windsor Fire
Mike Stornetta & Rocket

Sacramento Airport Fire
Eric Lieuwen & Jake

San Diego Fire-Rescue/Heartland Fire
Brent Brainard & Decker
Matt Kirk & Stella

Last night, after a long day of searching, 9 Search Dogs, their Handlers and fellow Task Force members stayed at the Handlers' Lodge at SDF's National Training Center. The Search Dogs used the dog wash to clean up and everyone enjoyed a short, but good night's sleep in the lodge before heading back to the search site.

See the full Deployment Report in PDF form here.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10, 2018

In the early morning hours yesterday, a massive mudslide crashed through the town of Montecito, CA, just south of Santa Barbara. As of today, 15 people have been confirmed dead with many more still missing. Regional urban search and rescue task forces from throughout Southern California have responded, along with local resources, to help those affected by this deadly incident.

9 SDF-trained Search Teams have joined the rescue efforts:

REGIONAL TASK FORCE 3 (Long Beach Fire)
Wade Haller & Rex

REGIONAL TASK FORCE 10 (Orange County Fire Authority)
Davis Doty & Jester

REGIONAL TASK FORCE 12 (Santa Barbara County Fire)
Eric Gray & Riley

CANINE SEARCH MISSION READY PACKAGE THROUGH OES (Los Angeles County Fire)
Jake Armendariz & Clancy
Dennis Clark & Rugby
Dennis DiMarzio & Ty
Jason Dobbins & Diva
Josh Flores & Cajun
Manny Sampang & Eva

Monday afternoon, prior to the mudslide, Search Dog Foundation-trained Search Teams Eric Gray & Riley and Wade Haller & Rex staged for deployment as heavy rains were expected to soak the recent Thomas Fire burn areas in southern Santa Barbara County. After the mudslides destroyed several homes and pushed debris across Highway 101, all the way to the ocean, the teams went to work searching for survivors.

News footage shows the teams at the scene searching homes in the area and gives an idea of the destruction caused by these deadly mudslides: See video of Riley searching here.

Search Team Davis Doty & Jester arrived yesterday afternoon and began searching early this morning, relieving Eric & Riley and Wade & Rex. This morning, the additional Los Angeles County Fire Search Teams arrived in Montecito and will be joining the rescue efforts already underway.

As our teams search for those who may be trapped under the debris and mud, our thoughts are with those affected by this disaster, occurring just over a month since the devastating Thomas Fire ravaged the region. We are so grateful for all the emergency responders, both two- and four-legged, who have answered the call.
Thank you for your support of our Search Dogs and Handlers, helping ensure they are ready for the challenges they face during this deployment and in the future. Thank you for being Part of the Search!

TUESDAY, JANUARY 9, 2018

During the afternoon of Monday, January 8, Search Teams Eric Gray & Riley (Santa Barbara County Fire) and Wade Haller & Rex (Long Beach Fire) staged for deployment as heavy rains were expected to soak the recent Thomas Fire burn areas in southern Santa Barbara County. Unfortunately, weather predictions were accurate and in the early hours of January 9, mudslides destroyed several homes in Montecito, killing several people and leaving others missing.

News footage shows the teams at the scene searching homes in the area. (See photos and video of the Search Dogs in action here) Search Teams Davis Doty & Jester (Orange County Fire Authority) are also preparing to deploy to assist in rescue efforts.  The teams are busy with their work and as we receive updates from the field, we will share those right away.

Our thoughts are with those affected by this disaster, just over a month since the devastating Thomas Fire ravaged the region. We are so grateful for all the emergency responders, both two- and four-legged, who have answered the call - stay safe out there!

Thank you for helping prepare these teams for disasters like this – it is so important that they are ready when the call comes and we have you to thank for that. Thank you for being Part of the Search!

*Photo above courtesy of Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire