On Monday, Rocket the border collie mix traveled to Texas with handler Mike Stornetta of the Windsor Fire Protection District in California.
They are assisting “with search and rescue missions in the hardest hit areas,” per the fire service.
But it could all have ended so differently for the pooch.
Back in 2012, Sacramento SPCA officials placed the hyperactive 1-year-old stray on its euthanasia list after one of its shelters took the pup in.
Staff, however, thought he had “promising search dog characteristics” and so contacted the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation to evaluate him, according to a post that the foundation wrote on Facebook on Monday.
Volunteer Andrea Bergquist believed the animal’s boundless energy could be harnessed for the greater good and she adopted him, reports CBS News.
“Rocket wasn’t an immediate fit but Andrea and her canine handler husband adopted Rocket anyway, and he was later accepted (as a search dog),” the foundation added.
The pooch was partnered with Stornetta in August 2014. The pair gained their FEMA certification soon after and were first deployed to deal with the aftermath of an aircraft crash in 2016.
Now that Rocket has been sent into action once again, Bergquist described it as “truly amazing to see how far” he’d come.
“I’m overwhelmed to think of all of the people and time and effort that has gone into a stray dog that no one wanted,” she said via the foundation’s Facebook post. “This is what it’s all about!”
The Sacramento SPCA has also paid tribute to its former charge.
“I think it’s just a testament that, just because an animal ends up in the shelter doesn’t mean that they are an animal that someone doesn’t want or that they don’t have a lot to give to the community,” the society’s spokeswoman, Dawn Foster, told The Sacramento Bee.
Social media users have been equally touched by the animal’s heartwarming story: