Shelter Dogs Given a Second Chance at Life

by Diane Tuazon
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Every dog that ends up at the shelter is longing for that perfect home.

Although some dogs may not ever find that home, organizations from around the Country like the Gifted Animal Placement and the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation rescues dogs out of shelters like here in Midland, and gives them a chance at becoming a service dog.

"They have the potential to be a service dog for handicaped individuals, either a stability dog or hearing assistance dogs. All these dogs that we're working with all need jobs," Steve Thomason with Gifted Animal Placement, said.

Some are even paired up with law enforcement to help detect bombs and drugs, or even help with search and rescue.

"We've sent 3 dogs out, and sent the 4th one out today. You're not sending a ton of dogs, but it's something," Paul O'Neil, Director of Animal Services in Midland, said.

"We look at 1,000 dogs before we can find one with the mental criteria. It's not something you can train. They have to be born with that instinct," Thomason said.

It's programs like Gifted Animal Placement that help dogs find jobs in any field, but ultimately save them from being eauthenized.

"We're teaching shelters and staff how to do one more test before they euthanize. See whether or not this dog has the capability to save someone's life, or get the drugs off the streets," Thomason said.

While it may take several tests to find the perfect service dog, Paul O'Neil says it's certainly worth the time and effort.

"It's kind of cool. If we find a dog that ends up saving a life or taking drugs off the streets, then we've done our part to help," O'Neil said.