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COLLEGE STATION – The grand opening of the new canine agility project at Disaster City? was held last week at a training workshop attended by 13 Texas Task Force 1 (TX-TF1) canine teams.

The new prop includes playground equipment, such as slides, tubes, ladders and a swinging bridge to challenge canine responders. During construction, towers were added as well as planks and other agility features to provide the search and rescue dogs with opportunities to learn and practice new skills.

“The new doggie playground exceeded our expectations,” said Susann Brown, K9 Training Manager with Texas Task Force 1. “The variety of obstacles that are built into the playground provided an excellent challenge to our dogs, both physically and mentally.”

During the training session, members of the Texas A&M University Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) were on hand to monitor and check the dogs’ health.

“Our goal in agility is to present canine teams with multiple, unpredictable obstacles that require careful movement by the dogs to maneuver through, and which require the handlers to choose the proper commands to guide their partners around the agility maze,” Brown said. “The capability to work as a team over unstable, moving and elevated objects is critical to performance during disaster response. All Task Force members, 4-legged and 2-legged, found our new prop an excellent addition to our ‘Disney World for Dogs’…Disaster City!”

Many of the certified canine teams in the FEMA Urban Search & Rescue system, as well as other canine teams, train at Disaster City. About 150 canine teams will train at Disaster City this year, Brown added.

“What makes Disaster City special for canine training is the variety of props, the quality of the props and the close proximity of them,” she said. “Canine teams that train here are able to challenge their skills by searching in realistic disaster settings and to move from training site to training site without wasting time. We often hear that teams get more training in one day here than they get in months elsewhere.”

About Disaster City?, College Station, Texas
Disaster City is 52 acres of simulated catastrophe, including rubble piles, collapsed buildings, train derailments and much more. It’s the largest and most comprehensive urban search and rescue training facility in the world and is part of the Emergency Preparedness Campus of the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX).

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Kathy Fraser

Director of Marketing and Communications

The course was outstanding. I went from basic knowledge on fires to being able to capture flaming valves and flanges, extinguish open hydrocarbon fires and conduct search and rescue in a short five days….This is a highly professional course.

— Dave LaBorde, Client, BP Atlantis
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