GREENVILLE — The All SAR K’9s are expected to be at Shawnee Prairie Preserve, 4267 State Route 502, on Sunday for canine training of search and rescue dogs. Trailing and cadaver training is set to be held there from 1 to 4 p.m.
Sharon Karns of Fletcher said she will not be able to attend but noted that the other team leaders, Keitha Myers and Jeri Sawyer, both of Piqua, will be in attendance.
“We come to Darke County four times a year to train our search and rescue dogs,” said Karns.
She indicated there will be 10 dogs there during the training, eight of which are certified. All of the canines personally belong to the people in the group.
“My two dogs are Treasure and Spirit, and then we have Zeeke, Bones, Eva, Fritz, Cassie, Scout, Hazel and Boss.”
Boss belongs to Cheryl Fugate of Darke County. The male German shepherd is disciplined in trailing.
The public, Karns said, is encouraged to watch.
“We tell the public what we require and one of the requirements is that they walk behind the handlers,” Karns said. “The dogs will be on leash. We encourage the public to watch. We can give them hints; say, there is a search for someone with Alzheimer’s.”
All SAR K9’s is an organization formed in 2014 for the purpose of assisting first responders in locating lost or missing persons.
The motto of search and rescue is “So others may live.”
“We train our dogs to locate missing or lost people by following a specific scent that varies with each individual person,” said Karns.
It was noted that even identical twins will smell differently to a dog.
She said the organization has clinicians come to Ohio to help all of the team learn and update search methods, enabling the team to bring the dogs to the highest standards needed for the task of finding those for whom they are searching. They also strive to have the dogs certified in the discipline for which they are trained.
Certification and training logs help the leaders to know what dogs can perform the best on a given search.
According to a brochure the organization has, there are four basic disciplines in search and rescue. Trailing involves having the dog follow the path of an individual that could be long and winding, through many changes of surface. The dogs, it was reported, can even follow a specific trail through heavily used area for up to two weeks.
Cadaver (or human remains detection) requires a dog to be able to accurately indicate locations where a person died.
“While we all have a unique odor while living, all deceased people smell the same to a dog,” the information stated. “Within the discipline of Human Remains Detection, there are two sub divisions: Land and water cadaver searching. While this type of searching has a sad ending, it will still give a family closure.”
Article search is another discipline. This does not involve finding missing or lost people, but is helpful to find lost items. The dog will locate an item that has a human smell on it. They are not usually scent specific, but any human scent. Sometimes, article search dogs are utilized by law enforcement to find stolen items that have been tossed away when a criminal tries to hide evidence.
It was pointed out that handlers also have many things to learn. They take first aid/CPR courses, learn land navigation, crime scene preservation and incident protocol (who is in charge and what they are expected to do to help, etc.). They learn proper radio communication, methods of talking to the media and proper reporting techniques.
All SAR K9’s is a volunteer organization that does not charge emergency services or families a fee for service. It is funded through grants and donations. One of its funding sources is through Kroger’s. Go to: krogercommunityrewards.com and a Kroger’s reward card to sign up. The organization’s number is 86157.
It is based out of Miami County and includes Shelby, Darke, Champagne and Clark counties.
“We go different places,” said Karns, “At the end of January, we will go up around Toledo to a community college.”
Karns can be reached by calling 937-216-0070 and Myers at 937-541-9485.
Everyone in the group is certified with the exception of two of the husbands. Rick Fugate is a flanker while Karn’s husband Richard is in charge of communications