An 'Unadoptable' Shelter Dog Is Now Saving Lives In Texas After Hurricane Harvey

"The Sacramento SPCA is privileged to witness the extraordinary character of dogs and their commitment to being more than loyal companions."

A former shelter dog named Rocket was once deemed "too energetic" by the Sacramento SPCA  for adoption. Now, the adorable Border collie mix is part of a search and rescue unit saving lives in Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Per a Facebook post from Windsor Fire Protection District in Windsor, California on August 28, Rocket and his K-9 handler Mike Stornetta (who is also a firefighter) arrived in Texas on Monday after nearly a day of travel in the hopes of locating survivors who might be trapped under debris or otherwise unable to call for help.

According to the post, Rocket and Stornetta have trained together for years and are part of CA/Oakland Task Force 4 that's ready and willing to help areas hardest hit by Harvey.

But exactly how did this lifesaving pair come to be?

Due to his high energy level, the team at Sacramento SPCA determined back in 2012 that Rocket wasn't quite ready to be adopted but he had great potential, so they began exploring other options for the then 1-year-old pup. "In this case, we reached out to our rescue partners, one of which is the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation," Dawn Foster, director of Marketing & Communications at the Sacramento SPCA, tells A Plus.

At the NDSDF,  "extremely energetic" Rocket thrived and was able to channel his energy into completing a task. Thanks to his work with the NDSDF and additional fostering and training from SPCA staff, Rocket found a new purpose. "The combination of in-house training resources and working with external partners give these special animals another chance they might not have elsewhere," Foster explains.

Once at the NDSDF, Rocket joined the training program and was placed with a handler. The rest, as you can see, was history.

"We are incredibly proud to have one of our Sacramento SPCA alums on the ground in Houston to help those in need," Foster adds. "The Sacramento SPCA is privileged to regularly witness the extraordinary character of dogs and their commitment to being more than loyal companions."

Rocket may not have been adoption material back in 2012, but it's hard to argue with all of the good he and Stornetta are doing now thanks, in no small part, to the quick thinking of the Sacramento SPCA staff. 

"We have the pleasure of meeting animals like Rocket, an energetic boy who was recognized by our staff to possess traits often seen in search and rescue dogs," Foster explains. "Because of our partnership with the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, dogs like Rocket are not only given the opportunity to fulfill their purpose to serve, they also change the lives of those they help along the way." 

As Foster sees it, "Rocket's story is a testament to the wonderful variety of animals that can be found at local shelters."  

"Each animal is special in their own way and all are waiting for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the people they meet," she concludes.

We hope Rocket and Stornetta are able to aid those in need in any way they can. For more information on how you can help victims of Hurricane Harvey, please click here.


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