Shelter dogs get a second chance at life, and a canine career

Kellee Matthews says, "We believe in the value of all shelter dogs, we see in our fields that we started in there was a lot of breeding and buying of dogs and you see our shelters full of dogs that have just the same amount of talent."
What started as a hobby years ago, has become a full-time recruitment for Kellee and Tim Matthews.
They're searching out shelter dogs with high energy that maybe aren't perfect pets, but could take on another canine career.
Tim Matthews says, "The dogs that I find that are so high drive sometimes are on the euthanasia list, they've been out to a home, back into the shelter, and then I get them and they test good and out the door they go."
One of their successful candidates, Carmen, from our local Humane Society of the Black Hills is now working in New York City as a vapor wake dog.
"Carmen's with the NYC PD and she will actually work the streets and any kind of explosives that are known to law enforcement at this point, those dogs are trained on those odors."
And their dogs all went to take on several different roles, from working with U.S. Marshalls, FEMA Search and Rescue, police departments all over the country, U.S. Embassies and even some Service Dogs.
Eliana Sheriff says, "Over the past four years the South Dakota Canine Center has transformed the lives of 150 shelter dogs, I'm here with Davey, their newest recruit from Gillette, Wyoming."
Recruited canines, like Davey, go through rigorous evaluations, making sure their motivation is strong enough - as well as testing their temperament and health.
It's an effort that takes the family across the Midwest, walking by cage after cage in search of four-legged candidates.
Brand Matthews says, "I think it's really fun going on recruiting trips with my dad."
And the dogs are trained with toys.
"He should be all over you playing, but he's just about the toy."
Using positive reinforcement as a reward.
Tim Matthews says, "This is a scent tube which we put an odor in a vial and attach it to a tube."
"If he alerts on the wrong thing, nothing happens, he's wrong, it's positive motivation, he's only rewarded when he finds the element."
Most dogs stay around 6 weeks, before they're sent to their new calling.
Brand Matthews says, "They just get attached to you and it's kind of hard to see them leave."
But at the end of the day,it's not only a life saved, but a chance for shelter dogs to shine.
"The possibilities for what they can do, from pets, to best friends, to international life savers, it seems to us to be endless possibilities."