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Before the Barks

An original video web series

search and rescue dog

All of us at MySafe:LA have pets – and we love them, just like you love your pets. One of our Directors is Margaret Stewart, a Los Angeles Firefighter and the woman in charge of the K9 Search and Rescue Dogs of FEMA’s California Taskforce 1. That means she doesn’t just have pets…Margaret has partners!

She has Bo, a Search and Rescue Dog. And she has Veya, a Human Remains Detection Dog. Margaret, Bo and Veya are called on to help find missing people in the midst of disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes. They’re also called on to help find people who have gone missing and are feared dead.

Margaret’s story – that of working with FEMA search dogs – is the story of all the brave handlers and their tireless dogs who respond in the worst of times, to search and rescue. That story is now an original, award-winning video web series called Before the Barks.

Emblems for Bronze Telly Award, IndieFest Award and Best Shorts Web Series

Watch Before the Barks right here:

Episode 1 — Meet Coby and Guiness!

The first national call out for FEMA search and rescue dogs was to New York City in the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Two of the amazing dogs who searched ground zero in vain for survivors those terrible days after the attacks, were Coby and Guiness, two labrador retrievers from Southern California. A few years ago, when we first filmed this episode, both Coby and Guiness were still alive, although elderly. We got a chance to spend time with both of these true heroes.


Episode 2 — Breeds

What breed of dog makes the best search and rescue dogs? Turns out its more about intelligence and attitude than breed.


Episode 3 — Puppy Selection

FEMA K9 trainers choose potential search and rescue dogs when they’re only a few weeks old. Find out what makes a promising puppy into a great working dog.


Episode 4 — Obedience and Agility

Two of the cornerstone skills of any search and rescue dog are obedience and agility. Both can be trained and honed by the right trainer working with the right dog.


Episode 5 — Direction Control

Dogs are the only animals that understand what a human being means when we point at something. Not even our closest relatives, chimpanzees, understand human pointing. It’s this unique bond between people and dogs that makes the skill of direction control possible.

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