Stray dog now training as search and rescue dog

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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - It didn't take long for search and rescue dog in-training Zephyr to pick up on my scent and locate me in Lansing's Poxson Park.

Zephyr is in the home stretch of training to become a Michigan search and rescue dog. These dogs are called in to help locate an autistic child who wandered away from home, search for a hiker gone missing, and more.

But, not too long ago, Zephyr was the one in need of help.

"She was just staring at me, giving me this focused stare," says owner Adam Kelly.

Adam and his wife spotted Zephyr at an adoption event at a Miami PetSmart, and immediately fell in love with the stray.

Now living in Lansing, the family wanted to do something to help others, and noticed Zephyr had a good personality for search and rescue.

The tables have now flipped, the former dog in need is training to help others when they need it most.

"Reconnect people with their loved ones," says Kelly, "and help people have closure."

They work with Michigan Search and Rescue, training with the entire group, a mentor and on their own time.

There are three training levels to complete, and Zephyr is almost done with level two.

"Through search and rescue she has really gained a lot of confidence," says Kelly.

And it is often strays like Zephyr that make the best search and rescue dogs.

"Very independent," says Kelly, "and are willing to go out and do stuff on their own, make great search and rescue dogs."

She's a dog who loves running and roaming, so much so that you can't help but smile. Her reward for locating her target is a squeaky ball and a game of fetch.

The timing is good, National Pet Adoption Weekend kicks off Friday and runs through Sunday. It is part of PetSmart Charities' effort to connect animals like stray dogs with pet lovers, which is how Adam and his wife were able to adopt Zephyr.

PetSmart Charities is now celebrating their 7 millionth pet adoption.

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