Almost put down, German shepherd now a rescue dog

Sunday, October 28, 2012 | 7:17 p.m. CDT; updated 7:25 p.m. CDT, Sunday, October 28, 2012

MONROE CITY — A 3-year-old German shepherd has gone from the rescued to the rescuer.

The dog, now named Diesel, was a week away from euthanasia after being deemed too aggressive. A search and rescue organization in northeast Missouri took a chance, took the dog and trained him to be part of that unit.

Kate Sidun of Monroe City K-9 Search and Rescue told the Hannibal Courier-Post that Diesel is now certified in both wilderness and disaster rescue.

"He is one of the most amazing search and rescue dogs we have had yet," she said.

Search and rescue operations are aimed at finding people who are, among other things, lost in the wilderness, trapped in rubble after a tornado or other disaster or missing from their home. Ron Barton, who tested and certified Diesel, said the dog passed his training with flying colors.

"We put him through the paces," Barton said. Despite a strong wind on the day of his test, Diesel was able to locate the missing person in the test.

The Monroe City operation's previous German shepherd was 8 years old and scheduled to be retired within two years. Needing a new dog, the organization contacted Missouri German Shepherd Rescue. The placement director suggested Diesel (then named Koda), who was in Shawnee, Kan.

The dog was scheduled to be put down. Rich Enochs, CEO of the Monroe City rescue team, went to Shawnee.

"Rich looked at Koda's adoption page: no other dogs, no kids, not good with people, aggressive, on borrowed time," Sidun said.

Despite any misgivings, the agency decided to give the dog a try. Enochs began immediate training and socialization.

"He had no trouble training him," Sidun said. "What he needed was leadership."

Diesel today is a different dog. "He goes to homes for the developmentally disabled, and they love him and brush his hair," Sidun said. He also attends day programs for the mentally disabled.

"Everybody that has always been afraid of German shepherds seems to bond very closely with Diesel," Sidun said.

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