Letter to the Editor

Importance of K9 teams

Sunday, May 8, 2011

To the Editor:

At a family picnic at a local park, their local 4-year-old daughter wanders away.

After a few minutes of hasty searching, they call 9-1-1. Arriving in just minutes are the police, fire department, search and rescue and a little known resource in our county, the Clay County K9 Response Team.

A handler collects the child's scent from her car safety seat. He harnesses the dog and scents her on the collected scent and off they go. In just a fraction of the time it would take ground searchers, the dog locates the girl, scared and upset, yet unharmed.

Thankfully, this is just a scenario, but when the time comes, the Clay County K9 Response Team is ready to assist in searches for lost/missing persons.

Why are search dogs important?

Dog teams have a very special role in the world of search and rescue. The dogs' ultra-sensitive hearing, night vision, endurance and keen sense of smell have continually proven to be invaluable in the effort to locate missing persons. Because of their extraordinary abilities, the dogs are often able to reduce the time spent searching, thereby increasing the chances that the missing persons will be found alive.

A search dog's success stems from the fact that every human being has a smell -- not detectable by human beings, but discernible by animals -- which is caused by the constant stream of skin rafts and bacteria shed from the human body. How this scent is detected by the animals is dependent upon the training they have had in trailing or air scenting techniques. In both cases, the search dogs are able to locate missing persons even if they are hidden from view. Experts estimate that a single dog team can be as effective as 20-30 trained human searchers in locating a missing person in a given period of time.

If you would like to know more about us, or would like to know how you can be involved, check out our website at www.claycountyk9.com, or e-mail us at info@claycountyk9.com, or call 812-241-1380. You do not need to have a dog or need to handle a dog to be involved. Thank you for supporting local search dogs.

Paul Baty,