09/03/2011 03:36 pm ET | Updated Nov 03, 2011

Shelter Dogs Trained To Sniff Out Survivors After Disaster Strikes (VIDEO)

During the critical immediate hours following September 11, the Haiti earthquakes and the tornado in Joplin, MO, rescue workers knew they had limited time and resources to rummage through the rubble to find survivors. Which is why when disaster strikes, rescue workers call on the trained pooches from the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, CNN reports.

Funded solely by grants, donations, awards and corporate support, the organization has been creating and training teams of dogs and handlers certified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency since 1996.

When Wilma Melville, founder of the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, arrived to the Oklahoma City bombing site, she at first felt uncertain. “Can we really do this?” Melville told the news network. “Can we really find live people?”

In addition to saving human lives, the organization also saves at-risk dogs. Ninety percent of the dogs that the organization trains come from shelters.

“Finding live people is our goal,” Melville told CNN. “But, providing hope for the onlookers and a place for the firefighters to start, those are meaningful, meaningful objectives.”

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