Texas Task Force 1 Canines And Handlers Retire

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It's a retirement celebration for some very special search and rescue responders at Disaster City in College Station.

News 3 went inside the rubble to see responders go to work, who happen to have four legs.

9-year-old dogs Blade and Rose have been an important part of Texas Task Force 1 for a combined 16 years and Saturday was the last time for them to train before they retire.

It's a bittersweet day between man and his best friend.

Disaster City is the place where labs Blade and Rose come to train.

While it's work, these dedicated dogs see it as their playground and bark on command once they discover a person trapped in the simulated disaster.

"We like to go out on a high note more or less I mean we know at this age you see little things as a handler that they're starting to have a little maybe arthritis or something. So they're just not as young in their body as they think in their mind they are," said Cathy Farrell, a Texas Task Force 1 Canine Search Specialist.

Farrell has called Blade partner since he was two.

"Let's make sure you're not hurt anywhere. I saw you slide in there between the rocks. Yeah. Good boy," said Farrell.

After covering state and federal disasters including hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods these rescue dogs new job will be being household pets.

"It's a bond…. Good girl. You ready to go?," asked Ronnie Perry with the task force.

Perry is also parting ways with Rose.

"As her work ethic and wanting to do it you really can't tell one day to the next that she's to that age of ready to retirement and so as handlers we have to look out for our dogs and know that it's time," he said.

As they transition to a more restful life their trainers have taught them tricks to keep these active dogs stimulated even in retirement.

Ronnie Perry will begin training with a new canine partner soon.

Meanwhile Cathy Farrell is also retiring from Texas Task Force 1.

*Previous Story*
This weekend marks the retirement of three Search and Rescue Canines, and three Canine Search Specialists from Texas Task Force 1. Rose, Blade and Maggie will retire after a combined 25 years of service with the State’s Urban Search & Rescue Team, which also serves as one of the 28 FEMA Task Forces. These canines have deployed with Texas Task Force 1 since 2005 including Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike, tornadoes in South Texas as well as floods in Central Texas. Susann Brown, one of Rose’s handlers, and Mike McKenna, Maggie’s handler, will retire as Canine Search Specialists but will remain on TX-TF1 in different positions. Ronnie Perry, a second handler for Rose, will begin training a new canine partner soon. Cathy Farrell, Blade’s handler, will retire from the Task Force along with Blade. Susann, Mike and Cathy have 57 years of canine SAR canine training experience between them. The group will be involved with training as part of a Disaster K9 Workshop this weekend at Disaster City.

Who is TX-TF1?
TX-TF1 is sponsored by the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and TX-TF1 has deployed over 80 times since 1997, including the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy, Sept. 11th World Trade Center attack, and Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike. TX-TF1 can be activated by the Texas Division of Emergency Management or as one of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) 28 sanctioned urban search and rescue teams.

Members of TX-TF1 range from firefighters and medical personnel, to structural engineers, and come from all areas capable of reporting to College Station within a four-hour window. These regions include the Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio areas.