April 19, 1995
At 9:03 a.m., just after parents dropped their children off at daycare at the Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, the unthinkable happened. A massive bomb inside a rental truck exploded, blowing half of the nine-story building into oblivion. A stunned nation watched as the bodies of men, women, and children were pulled from the rubble for nearly two weeks. When the smoke cleared and the exhausted rescue workers packed up and left, 168 people were dead in the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil up to that time. Eleven FEMA Task Forces were deployed to the disaster—the largest number used at a single disaster in U.S. history. Among the canine search teams was Wilma Melville, a retired teacher, and Murphy, her Black Lab. Murphy and the other search dogs were able to cover large areas of rubble, saving precious time for firefighters by indicating where victims were buried.
In 1995, there were only 15 FEMA Advanced Certified disaster search dog-handler teams in the entire U.S. Recognizing the critical need for more Advanced teams in the country, Wilma founded the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation as a way to train teams in a better, more cost-efficient manner.