- Associated Press - Saturday, April 18, 2015

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) - Humane Society employees at Grand Island are looking for untapped potential among the shelters’ unwanted dogs to give them purpose - and help out humans.

The staff at the Central Nebraska Humane Society underwent training last month in California conducted by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, The Grand Island Independent reported (https://bit.ly/1ztGhYU ) Saturday. At that workshop, employees learned how to look for skills needed in search and rescue dogs.

The Grand Island facility also works with a program called Heads Up Hounds, which provides diabetic alert dogs from Denver to Boston.

“So it’s pretty exciting to know that our dogs are going on to make a difference,” Central Nebraska Humane Society Director Laurie Dethloff said.

Tim Matthews and his wife, Kellee, of the South Dakota Canine Center, visit shelters in 10 Midwestern states looking for dogs “that we can find amazing careers for,” she said. The Grand Island shelter is one of the best to work with in their quest to find opportunities for those dogs, she said.

The South Dakota couple looks for dogs that could become certified search and rescue dogs, help detect explosives, narcotics and bedbugs and help people prone to seizures. They’re also looking for dogs that will work at Ronald McDonald Houses.

Heads Up Hounds, based in Louisville, Nebraska, has been working with the Central Nebraska Humane Society since its formation in 2013.

“As a matter of fact, the very first dog that we placed came from them,” said Jamie Cook of Heads Up Hounds.

Ten dogs from Grand Island have gone into the diabetic alert dog program.

“They have an amazingly awesome staff,” Cook said.

But the shelter still works to make sure dogs are given their best shot at finding a new home.

The shelter participates in the Second Chance Pups program at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, in which inmates are given a dog with behavioral problems and spend nine weeks training the dogs to make them suitable for adoption.

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Information from: The Grand Island Independent, https://www.theindependent.com

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