Search and rescue puppy ‘Elvis’ arrives in Phoenix


Elvis… is in the building.

The Phoenix Fire Department has welcomed its newest canine search puppy.

Elvis arrived at Sky Harbor Airport Saturday afternoon with his handler, Fire Captain Dana Medlin.

The pair flew in from Philadelphia.

Elvis was raised at the University of Pennsylvania Working Dog Center and has undergone months of training.

Medlin just met him for the first time this week, and has spent the last few days training with him in Philadelphia. 

[RELATED: Phoenix Fire Dept. welcomes new canine search puppy, ‘Elvis’]

Elvis, just 11 months old, will continue his search dog training and become FEMA certified with Medlin here in Phoenix for the next six to eight months.

He will live with Medlin and become a member of her family. (Medlin’s previous search dog, Hoss, lived with him for ten years before he died.)

[VIDEO: Watch Elvis in action during his training]

“Elvis” was named after a canine who searched the rubble at the World Trade Center. 

Welcome, Elvis!

[SPECIAL SECTION: Critter Corner]

So what does it take to train a disaster search dog? An awesome dog, 2,000 hours of training, a lot of commitment by the handler, as well as the dog and their training group, and successful completion of a nationally administered certification test.

The test involves the dog searching two 15,000-square-foot rubble sites, finding completely buried live victims and ignoring distractions such as hamburgers, steak, clothing and dog toys.

A false alert on anything except a live victim is an automatic failure.

A handler may look at 20 to more than 100 dogs before finding a canine partner that has the qualities and drive to do this type of work.

Once certified, the dog and handler are qualified to deploy to international, national or local disasters with a FEMA Urban Search & Rescue team such as our Task Force here in Phoenix — AZ-TF1.

AZ-TF1, manned by Phoenix firefighters, has been deployed to disasters including The World Trade Center, Katrina, Rita, Ike, Harvey, Irma and the mudslide disaster in Oso, Washington.

Phoenix Fire disaster search dogs are also used locally to find missing people. Over the past few years, these local searches have been conducted for a missing toddler, an Alzheimer’s patient and injured hikers.

AZ-Task Force1 is one of 28 National Urban Search and Rescue teams prepared to deploy in response to local and national disasters. Task forces are located throughout the United States.

The AZ-TF1 canines are purchased through funds raised by the non-profit (501c3) organization Arizona Search Dogs.

For more information about the organization, click on the following link:

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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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