BROWARD (CBSMiami) – An energetic and rambunctious Labrador retriever mix named Stella is getting a new leash on life after being surrendered to the Humane Society of Broward County three times since March.
"Because of her enthusiasm and her energy, she couldn't be quite kept at bay at home," said Jinnette Pantalone with the Humane Society of Broward County.
Despite being able to find a forever family, Sabrina, a teenage volunteer at the Humane Society, saw potential in Stella.
She noticed the 1-year-old pup was obsessed with tennis balls and could play for what seemed like forever.
Sabrina did some research and thought Stella would make a good search and rescue dog.
"I had heard about a rescue that takes dogs from shelters and trains them to save people's lives and thought she'd be perfect. I did some research, spoke to some people and here we are," Sabrina said.
Shelter staff reached out to the "National Disaster Search Foundation." It's a non-profit organization in California which recruits rescued dogs and partners them with firefighters and other first responders to find people buried alive in the wreckage of disasters.
After an evaluation and some preliminary tests, Stella was accepted into the program for search and rescue training.
"She's going to go through all this and she can do a very different assortment of jobs that at the end of the day she will be saving people from different things," explained Pantalone. "But for right now she's going to be training to search for survivors in a natural disaster."
Staff members are not only thrilled for Stella's new purpose but also seeing the same potential in other energetic pooches like herself.
"We never knew what to look for, so now dogs like Stella, who have this unique gifts, that come to a shelter wouldn't be overlooked as a troubled, misbehaving dog but an actually a hero," Pantalone said.
Stella will be leaving Thursday morning bright and early for the West Coast where she will undergo eight to 10 months of professional training before being teamed with a handler.
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