Switzer Dogs Help Complete OKCFD Search And Rescue Team
OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma City firefighters welcomed their newest K9 members to the Search and Rescue team Thursday.
Two yellow lab brothers named Zip and Zero were trained from birth at Barry and Becky Switzer's Ground Zero K9 facility. Ground Zero takes puppies, shelter dogs, pure breeds and mutts alike, and turns them into search and rescue superheroes.
Zip and Zero are obviously playful pups. That is what makes the labs perfect to become the latest, and last, two dogs to join the Oklahoma City Fire Department family. The search and rescue team is finally complete now, with nine total K9s.
“Our K9s as a whole are some of the busiest and most deployed K9s in the nation,” says Major Andrew McCann.
Zip and Zero's brother Zoom is one of the dogs still in training at Ground Zero. Their very serious real-world job is all about fun, with lots of rewards and treats.
Everyday more than a dozen dogs at the kennel traverse uncertain terrain until they get it right. They work their way from simple see-saws as beginners to ladder courses of varying difficulty to actual search and rescue of humans, both in barrels and rubble piles. Their nose leads the way.
Ground Zero has already graduated 10 dogs in its 14-month existence, a feat that is nearly unheard of. Under the leadership of the Switzers, however, the expectation is to win.
They credit “secret sauce!” for the success, and Coach adds, “They go out and train against other dogs. They may take nine or 10 minutes. Ours do it in three minutes. They find you.”
Federal agencies like FEMA are already lined up to get their hands of some of these K9s, but the Switzers say they are focusing on Oklahoma first. The goal is to place 36 dogs total around the state, so they are almost a third of the way there.
Their vision is much larger, though. The couple is raising $40 million to build a huge, state-of-the-art facility, where they will host training for human handlers from far and wide, as well as their K9 partners.
If you would like to help or learn more about the project, visit GroundZeroSavesLives.com.