Search Dog Foundation: Finding Diamonds in the Ruff

National Disaster Search Dog Foundation has had tremendous success in rescuing rambunctious shelter dogs and turning them into highly-trained rescue […more…]

From Rescued to Rescuer

When the debris flow hit Montecito on January 9, 2018, Riley was ready.  Having been deployed to the tsunami in […more…]

National Disaster Search Dog Foundation


Our mission is to strengthen disaster response in america by rescuing and recruiting dogs and partnering them with firefighters and other first responders to find people buried alive in the wreckage of disasters.

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s Director of Development and/or Executive Director.

Disasters Happen. It’s Not a Matter of If, But When…

To address a critical national need, Wilma Melville founded the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) in 1996. It has grown into a nationwide organization that recruits, rescues, and trains shelter dogs to become search dogs, looking for survivors in the wreckage of natural and human-made disasters.
SDF has proudly served the Santa Barbara community since 1999, and search dogs based here have been deployed to Ground Zero after 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the La Conchita mudslide, the devastating Japan earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the Nepal earthquake in 2015, and the Montecito mudslide in 2018
Santa Barbara’s newest community hero is Waffles, a Belgian Malinois and former shelter resident turned search dog, who is partnered with Captain Eric Gray of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
SDF provides ongoing training and veterinary care for these search teams. Dogs unable to complete training are career changed or placed in loving homes. Once rescued, they will never need to be rescued again.
– George Leis, Chair, Board of Directors, National Disaster Search Dog Foundation President & Chief Operating Officer, Montecito Bank & Trust

Board of Directors

George Leis — Chair
Dennis Kuykendall — Vice Chair and Interim Treasurer
Michael J. Diani — Secretary
Richard Butt
Robert Dodge, M.D.
Robert Harris
Wilma Melville
George R. Haynes, Ph.D.
Jeff Wenig
Crystal Wyatt