Founders / Our Story

Oklahomans have a reputation for being generous, friendly caring people willing to do anything to help a neighbor. This “Oklahoma Spirit ” shines through even the darkest of tragedies, including the bombing of the Oklahoma City Murrah building in April 1995 and again during the devastating tornadoes of May 1999 and May 2013; and every event in between. 

Like so many Oklahomans, these natural and man-made disasters had a lasting impact on Barry & Becky Switzer and it was in the aftermath of these devastating events that the couple became aware of the critical shortage of qualified search-and-rescue dogs. When the 9/11 terrorist attacks stunned the nation, the Switzers felt so compelled to take action to positively impact the critical shortage of qualified search and rescue dogs in Oklahoma and nationwide. They also discovered budget restrictions at the local, state and national levels were negatively affecting the ability for many task forces to obtain a search and rescue canine. Ground Zero Emergency Training Center was founded to meet these needs.