Search and Rescue Dogs Train For Their Next Call

"Prairie Dogs" Helps Train Dogs To Aide Emergency Responders

Prairie Dogs Search and Rescue prepares dogs to aid and assist emergency responders in searches for missing people.

A variety of different skills are taught based on what group president Terri White said fit the dog’s interests.

One of the methods is HRD, or Human Remains Detection.

“They try and scent teeth, a tissue from a bloody nose, something that would help them in a case that the police would need help locating a deceased person,” explained White.

The other two training methods include ‘area searches’ and ‘track and trail searches’.

Each of these methods relies on the missing person’s scent to hunt.

White said Tracking and Trailing can give responders a general idea of where the individual is.

“Tracking and Trailing dogs will follow in footsteps and they’re normally in a harness and the person is tethered to them with a lead so usually we can use those dogs to follow in the footsteps and get a direction of travel,” White said.

White also explained that Area Search dogs need to use their environment around them to help guide them.

“The dog is off-lead and they will use the air scent currents to find the person, whether it’s behind a building, in trees, a wooded area,” said White.

White concluded that at the end of the day, it’s a four-legged effort by both methods of search that help them complete the task that is given to them.

She also said they rescue dogs from shelters and look to give them jobs and a happy life.

Prairie Dogs Search and Rescue, White said, has grown from four training dogs to eighteen in just the last two months.

She explained that volunteers that join the program are looking to give back to their communities.

“Usually it’s a small child or an elderly person that goes missing and so we just want to be able to give closure to families, one way or another by helping them find their family member,” said White.

White also stressed the importance of making the difficult job of searching for missing people a game to the dogs so they can keep interest in the task at hand.

Prairie Dogs Search and Rescue meets every weekend, with the day depending on schedules and weather.

The program also offers obedience classes every Wednesday.