Six canine teams from four states met the challenge of Disaster City’s newly reconstructed Rubble Pile #1 on Nov 28-29 as part of a National FEMA Canine Certification Trial hosted by TEEX and Texas Task Force 1 (TX-TF1). There were two teams from Texas, two from Arizona, one from New Mexico, and one from Indiana.
The canines and their handlers were tested on two sites by a team of FEMA evaluators. Scott Mateyaschuk, a NY-TF1 member and FEMA evaluator, complimented TEEX and Disaster City?.
“I’ve been to lots of training facilities, but this one is the best in the country,” said Mateyaschuk. “We’re able to do so many different things at this one location — you can’t do that any other place. And the people here are so willing to work with you to make things happen.”
And with the addition of the new “challenging” rubble pile, TX-TF1 canine handler Shelley Swedlaw says it can only get better.
For TX-TF1 member Vicki Spears and her canine Boogie, the event was bittersweet. “This is Boogie’s last time to certify. He’s 8 years old, and he’ll be retiring in the next year or two so he won’t be doing this again.”
TX-TF1 handler Jim Pennington and canine Scrappy also participated in the trial. Scrappy came to Jim from the late TX-TF1 canine handler Carla Collins, who died last summer. Jim reports that Scrappy is doing well: “Scrappy and Z (Zasha) are great friends now. He’s put on some weight, and he’s a happy boy.”
After the trials, task force members had the opportunity to practice on the rubble piles with their current search and rescue dogs, along with dogs in training.
To keep up with information about Texas Task Force 1, follow the team on Facebook or