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Oklahoma Rescue Dogs Train To Save Lives

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This weekend, some of the most highly trained rescue dogs in the nation were in Owasso to be certified. This weekend, some of the most highly trained rescue dogs in the nation were in Owasso to be certified.
A trainer gives his rescue dog a shot of water. A trainer gives his rescue dog a shot of water.
Still photo of one of the rescue dogs searching the tornado wreckage in Moore. Still photo of one of the rescue dogs searching the tornado wreckage in Moore.
OWASSO, Oklahoma -

Every dog is man's best friend, but it takes a special kind of canine to save a life.

This weekend, some of the most highly trained rescue dogs in the nation were in Owasso to be certified.

It may look like the leftovers from a construction site, but it's the ideal training ground for a life-and-death situation.

"This is the kind of environment we're going to have in Oklahoma," Oklahoma Task Force 1 Program manager RB Ellis said.

Ellis said time is of the essence during a rescue when technology falls short when searching an area.

"Whereas we can put a dog on it and search and area probably 20 times faster," Ellis said.

Many of these dogs have been rescued themselves from animal shelters.

They begin training before their first birthday, and it continues until they retire at 6 or 7.

The dogs train at home every day and with teams at least eight times a month.

"The can tell the difference between an animal and a human, a deceased individual and a live individual," handler Vincent Stoops said.

Stoops trains "Magnum," and said the No. 1 rule is to develop trust early on.

"He'll go down 15 or 16 feet and all I'll hear is him rummaging around," Stoops said.

Tulsa firefighter Jeff Leon knows about the importance of that trust.

"Moore was the first [recovery site] I ever went to," Leon said.

Leon said he and his K9 partner covered more than 90 homes in two days after the EF5 tornado ripped through Moore.

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