Disaster Search Dog Teams Honored by College of Veterinary Medicine At Western University of Health Sciences

POMONA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Nov. 2, 2001–Eight of the California advanced search dog teams recently returned from service at ground zero in New York were honored in Los Angeles today by the College of Veterinary Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences, located in Pomona, 35 miles east of the downtown area.

In conjunction with its annual “A Tribute to Caring” fundraising event, the University donated $15,000 to the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (NDSDF), a non-profit organization that turns rescued and donated dogs into the FEMA-certified rescue dogs. The organization sent a total of 13 dogs and their handlers to the World Trade Center site after the terrorist attacks to search for victims.

Presiding over the event was Shirley Johnston, DVM, Ph.D., founding dean of the college, which is the first and only veterinary medical school in Southern California. Debra Tosch, NDSDF executive director and a search dog handler herself, accepted the donation on behalf of her organization, which is based in Ojai, Calif.

Handlers and dogs from Los Angeles, San Diego and Sacramento, Calif. were present to receive commemorative medallions and certificates. Among the ranks of handlers were firefighters, a paramedic and a stockbroker. The event took place in Los Angeles at the Animal Specialty Group, a provider of state-of-the-art veterinary medical and surgical care and one of the college’s principal teaching institutions.

As a response to the terrorist acts, Western University diverted 20 percent of proceeds from the fundraiser, which usually benefit the university’s scholarship fund, to relief organizations working to help victims and their families of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In addition to the donation to the Foundation, 10 percent of the funds raised were sent to the “Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund.”

Four of the university’s five colleges train students to become pharmacists, osteopathic physicians, physical therapists, advanced practice nurses and physician assistants. The university’s College of Veterinary Medicine will open its doors to its charter class of students in fall 2003.

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