Truck crash in Monterey Park, California

Search Dog deployment in Monterey Park

Reported by SDF Handler Captain Marc Valentine

At 9:00 pm on Monday, September 6th, the City of Monterey Park Fire Department received word that a semi-truck had crashed into a house located at 577 Casuda Canyon Road. Upon arrival, the Fire Department found a two-trailer rock-hauler truck buried in the front room of a single family residence. The truck had been stolen earlier that evening, and the driver had lost control of the vehicle when a car pulled out in front of it as it sped downhill. The Fire Department called for an Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) Canine to search the area.

Val (my Yellow Lab) and I responded to the incident along with my department's US&R Team. We found that the homeowners had been accounted for, but units on scene could not find the driver of the vehicle. The cab of the truck had been severely damaged and no one could get in it to check for the driver.

I had Val clear the inside of the house and the outside of the truck from the ground. I then put Val up into the cab of the truck through the rear window to check the cab. Val did not find anyone in the house or the truck so I had him do an area search around the house and yard. After the truck was removed from the house I had Val recheck the house for a final all-clear. This allowed rescue workers to remove the vehicle from the house and bring some normalcy back to the neighborhood.

This was probably one of Val's last deployments. He is now 111/2 years old and is starting to wind down. He'll most likely retire in December when my other Search Dog, Rico, becomes Certified. Val has been an amazing partner and companion. He's now one of America's oldest working Certified Search Dogs. His first deployment was to a building collapse in June of 2001. Today's deployment showed that, eight years later, he's still a phenomenal Search Dog—a bit slower, but every bit as focused. He goes right into action, ignoring all distractions, and gets the job done. He still loves to search, but I think he'll enjoy his retirement years, living the good life at home with my family and his seven canine companions.