Eight of the California advanced search dog teams recently returned from

service at Ground Zero in New York City were honored in Los Angeles today

by the College of Veterinary

Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences located in Pomona,

35 miles east of the downtown area.

In conjunction with its annual “”A Tribute to Caring”” fundraising event,

the university donated $15,000 to the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation

(NDSDF), a non-profit organization that turns rescued and donated dogs

into the FEMA-approved rescue dogs. The organization sent a total of 13

dogs and their handlers to the World Trade Center site after the terrorist

attacks to search for victims.

Presiding over the event was Shirley Johnston, DVM, PhD, founding dean of

the college, which is the first and only veterinary medical school in

Southern California. Debra Tosch, NDSDF executive director and a rescue

dog handler herself, accepted the donation on behalf of her organization,

which is based in Ojai, Calif.

Handlers and dogs from Los Angeles, San Diego and Sacramento were present

to receive commemorative medallions and certificates. Among the ranks of

handlers were firefighters, a paramedic, and a stockbroker. The event

took place in Los Angeles at the Animal

Specialty Group, a provider of state-of-the-art veterinary medical and

surgical care and one of the college’s principal teaching institutions.

As a response to the terrorist acts, Western University diverted 20

percent of proceeds from the fundraiser, which usually benefit the

university’s scholarship fund, to relief organizations working to help

victims and their families of the September 11 terrorist attacks. In

addition to the donation to the Foundation, 10 percent of the funds raised

were sent to the “”Families of

Freedom Scholarship Fund.””

Four of the university’s five colleges train students to become

pharmacists, osteopathic physicians, physical therapists, advanced

practice nurses and physician assistants. The university’s College of

Veterinary Medicine will open its doors to its charter class of students

in fall 2003.