SARASOTA, Fla. -- When Patricia Abrams, founder of the Sarasota K-9 Search and Rescue Team, won a monetary award, she used her program and the money to promote child safety. Abrams even started a children's book series.
The Sarasota K-9 Search and Rescue Team unit has served on more than 300 missions, helping to find missing people, and tracking down criminals. "So far we've assisted law enforcement with over 22 cases that people have gone to prison for the acts of violence they've committed," says team leader Patricia Abrams.
The dogs have different skills and do different jobs. "We have tracking and trailing, we have cadaver dogs, aerial dogs, disaster dogs, and water dogs."
Their training is intense, but to them it's just a game. "They have no idea they are searching for a lost person or a deceased person; they just know there is a big game and a reward," says training coordinator Deputy Tami Treadway.
Each dog has its own true story, so Abrams decided to write a series of books for children using the dogs to teach safety lessons. "We want to teach a child not to get lost, not to walk away, not to talk to a stranger…all those life skills, don't be bullied."
The first book, about Patricia's dog Noah, teaches about predators. "It's very hard to teach a child what is a predator. Noah meets two predators, and his rule is if you don't know, you don't go."
The second book is about Boo, a dog saved from an abusive situation. "His whole motto is ‘no one has a right to hurt anyone.’ And if someone is hurting you, you need to tell someone right away that you trust."
Then there's a book about Tracker, who confronts a bully. And soon out will be a book about Tough. "Tough’s book is about safety. If you don't know, you don't go. Also, being aware of your surroundings," says K-9 handler Cindy O’Neill.
And in the works is a book about Chasen, a retired deputy dog injured while working in law enforcement. "Because of his background, the special book that's coming out will be on gun safety for children."
To learn more about Sarasota K-9 Search and Rescue Team and the books about the dogs, visit http://k-9sar.net