ABC7 News Exclusive: Inside access to Virginia Task Force 1’s rescue dog training

ABC7 News Exclusive: Inside access to Virginia Task Force 1’s rescue dog training (Tim Barber/ABC7)

The Blackhawk helicopter kicked up rocks and dust. It touched down on a hill that overlooks a staged disaster zone in Los Angeles. The fake village was filled with people posing as patients.

When the helicopter door opened, Virginia Task Force 1’s rescue dogs hopped out.

Their mission was to find the fake patients who were hiding throughout The Search Dog Foundation’s 125-acre property.

Four-year old Pippin is a yellow lab. He belongs to task force member Mark Schroeder.

“[Pippin] has his own emotions and moods,” said Schroeder. “We can read each other.”

Together the K9 team scoured a staged train wreck and a destroyed village. Pippin sniffed for signs of life, uncovering one victim after another.

It felt like a game to Pippin, but Schroeder and the task force know it could eventually mean the difference between life and death.

“There is an actual joy– a happiness in working with these dogs,” said Schroeder.

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