Task Force: California Task Force 2 (CA-TF2)
Agency: Los Angeles County Fire
Level: DHS/FEMA Certified
Most Recent Certification: June 5, 2016
Search Dog Info
Breed: Belgian Malinois
Born: June 20, 2014
Donated by: Anonymous
Recruited by: Trevor Lawrence
Prep Home: Darrell & Heather Wilkerson
Sponsors: Mary & Jeff Kroll
Guardians: Berkeley Meigs
At the beginning of 2015, SDF staff were contacted by a canine trainer from the Salt Lake City, UT area named Sonja Nordstrom, who had been working with a client’s beautiful, yet unruly, Belgian Malinois that she felt was destined for more than life as a pet. Sonja had spoken with the young dog’s owners and they had agreed that if just the right place was found, they would consider transferring ownership of Diva into a working field where she could put her skills to use.
SDF connected Sonja with one of our handlers on Utah Task Force 1, Trevor Lawrence, and he met with Sonja and evaluated Diva shortly after. Trevor agreed that Diva had much to offer as an urban disaster search and rescue canine, and he saw her through the process of making sure she was medically fit for this line of work, then transported her to SDF’s National Training Center in Santa Paula, CA.
A little too young still for our program, Diva spent several weeks in the home of SDF staff member Darrell Wilkerson and his wife Heather. They lived nearby the National Training Center and could give Diva love, support and structure and she aged a bit and prepared to enter formal training.
From very early on once she entered the training program, and continuing all the way through, SDF trainer Emily Fisk reported back to the rest of the staff things like, “She is going to be such a nice search dog! She is a lot of fun to have around and work with… (and) will move along quickly through this program. We are so pleased with this little super star!” Diva proved to be an ideal canine candidate and graduated on January 22, 2016.
That day she was partnered with Firefighter/Paramedic Jason Dobbins of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Diva now lives with Jason’s family in their home, and they work hard to hone their skills as a search team.
On June 5, 2016, Jason and Diva achieved Certification through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and are now eligible to deploy with California Task Force 2, based in Los Angeles, to disasters around the globe.
We look forward to sharing their experiences with supporters as their careers bloom!