From shelter dog to search & rescue: A local dog’s new national responsibility

Local News

TOPEKA (KSNT) – A shelter dog from Helping Hands Humane Society is making a big name for himself. One-year-old Bender spent three months at Helping Hands before his life changed.

He didn’t just find a permanent home, he found a purpose. It didn’t take long before employees at the Helping Hands Humane Society realized he had a big personality and was fit to do something special.

“Our behavior specialist here at Helping Hands, Lindsey, is really good at finding rescues for dogs to go to if they aren’t a good fit to go up for adoption at our shelter,” Emi Griess, the Topeka Helping Hands Humane Society Communications Director, said. “She found out that some shelter dogs if they have the right personality could go be trained to be search and rescue dogs.”

Bender passed his search and rescue evaluations this week at the South Dakota Canine Center. It all started by playing around, just like most puppies tend to do.

“He was so obsessed with tennis balls that he would jump on people or mouth them,” Griess said.

His playful trait eventually turned into training and Bender was up for the challenge. Now he has big responsibilities ahead of him.

“The concept would be that if people are ever caught under rubble or in situations where it’s harder for us as humans, we are not nearly as athletic as dogs are or can’t fit into spaces that dogs can fit,” Griess said.

The goal is that Bender will eventually become a hero. He will find people stuck in crisis situations and alert rescue teams so that they can be saved.

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