Rescue dog training to join OK-TF1, help people trapped in disaster situations

TULSA, Okla. — A new, specially-trained dog in Tulsa is preparing to help find people trapped in debris following disasters.

Stryker is a two-year-old yellow lab. He is working to become part of a statewide team of first responders known as OK-TF1. The group uses specialized, skilled dogs to respond to disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes and building collapses.

Tulsa firefighter and OK-TF1 member Justin Montgomery is Stryker’s handler. The dog was paid for and came from the nonprofit organization National Disaster Search Dog Foundation in California.

Stryker is training is to become a “live find search K9,″ which is a dog that finds live humans trapped in debris. All of his training centers around a toy, and the human scent.

“They’ll go hide and then I’ll send him to find them. When he alerts, which he barks when he finds them, the victim will stick his toy out and tug with him and that’s his reward and then I’ll come up there, I’ll free him off, I’ll take it and I’ll send him for another one,” explained Montgomery.

The dog can go through tunnels, jump high and is working on climbing a fire ladder. Stryker is expected to test for his final certification in a matter of weeks. Once he is certified, training continues on a regular basis. Fully trained, he’ll be worth about $70,000.

Stryker will be one of nine, OK-TF1 ‘live find search K9′s’ in the Tulsa metro area, on top of seven out of the Oklahoma City area. The team also has three “human remains detection K9′s” that are trained to search for people who did not survive a disaster.

When Stryker is not on the job, he goes everywhere with Montgomery. Dogs like him work for 10 to 12 years. Once he retires, he’ll become a regular family pet.

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