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Dogs Have a Nose for Search and Rescue

By Staff | Aug 5, 2015

When the term working dog comes to mind, we often think of police dogs or service dogs. But how often do we think of search and rescue dogs? A few weeks ago, the Ohio River and Sistersville was the sight of training for search and rescue dogs. More than a dozen dogs came in to learn, train and sharpen their skills. This event was brought on by the Tyler County Office of Emergency Management. The four day event was an amazing sight as dogs and their handlers searched for their victim.

A big part of the training was putting the scent materials on the boats and leading the dogs to pick up the scent. Once they got use to the scent they then were able to go on the water and lead the rescue effort. Once the trainers were out on the water they used a scent generator to blow bubbles which carried the scent to areas to be searched. Scent materials can be made up of many different things, some are taken from medical labs and others come packaged and can be purchased. Talking with the trainers it was learned that some of the strongest scent materials come from hospitals and include many different body parts, including ground up teeth and blood and gauze from dental offices.

Handlers from Hancock, Marshall, Wirt, Wood and Tyler counties were present. Tom Cooper, Director of the Tyler County Office of Emergency Management was in charge of the event and had help from John Paul Jones, O.E.M. director from Hancock County. Most all of the dog handlers are also members of the Tyler County search and rescue team and have been involved in other training exercises sponsored by Cooper’s office.