Saturday, June 15, 2013
On a hot and muggy Saturday, 4-year-old German Shepherd, Tala, is told a person is missing. Handler Mike Moreland readies her for the search and then turns her loose.
Within moments, Tala catches a whiff of the scent.
"(Then) It was a one hundred miles per hour line drive to the person she smelled," said Don Gamble of K9 Search and Rescue of Kansas.
This time around, the person she has found is one the K9 Search and Rescue team handlers hiding out as part of a training exercise.
Tala and other dogs in the K9 Search and Rescue of Kansas group intensely prepare for a year with their handlers. They're trained to track the odor of a live human. Each week, they go through a series of exercises that are done in all kinds of terrain and conditions.
"We'll train in the rain and the snow. Weather is what we work in," handler Mike Moreland said.
Training is never over for the dogs.
"We train to make sure they are on top of their game and then, if a call out comes, they become more than a pet," Gamble said.
Unlike law enforcement K9's who are trained, in part, to search out and handle criminals, these dogs are trained to help those in distress.
Dogs from K9 Search and Rescue of Kansas, based primarily in Wichita, have helped find missing children, elderly people, and even people who were buried in the rubble by the Greensburg Tornado.
They were on standby near Moore, Okla. following the tornado there last month.
The team of dogs and handlers make up a non-profit organization. In other words, their help is free. They don't show up unannounced, though, they wait for the call from law enforcement or emergency managers.
"We would respond to any place that we're called to and asked to use our services," Gamble said.
The Search and Rescue team has been around for six years. But now the group is marking a major milestone.
Donations have allowed them to secure a command post trailer, a key asset to have when they respond to emergencies.
"It's a place to be out of the elements if we're out on search, a place to be away from the chaos so we can organize," Gamble said.
On Saturday, the Wichita Kennel Club, on behalf of the American Kennel Club, presented K9 Search and Rescue of Kansas with an $1,800 check. Gamble says that money will go toward outfitting the trailer with everything the handlers and the dogs will need to carry out their mission of helping people so others can live.
For more information, please visit K9 Search and Rescue of Kansas at their website: http://www.k9sark.org
You may also visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/K9-Search-and-Rescue-of-Kansas/172995912721089?fref=ts