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Search and rescue dogs have important role in finding missing people, including Brian Laundrie

Search and rescue dogs play an important role in missing persons cases.
Search and rescue dogs play an important role in missing persons cases.(WWSB)
Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 10:54 PM EDT
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PARRISH, Fla. (WWSB) - The 11 dogs that are part of Manatee County Search and Rescue team are not only beautiful animals but also very smart and well trained. Ten of their dogs are live-scent canines that search to find a missing person who is hopefully still alive and the other is a canine trained in finding human remains.

“Dogs are instrumental in looking for somebody that’s missing because they can do the work of a hundred people,” said John Elwood, deputy chief of Manatee County Search and Rescue. “They can clear vast amounts of area in a short period of time.”

Those canines looking for someone missing like Brian Laundrie get a scent of a person’s article of clothing and are trained to track that person down.

“They could be extremely useful because we don’t have instrumentally techniques that are able to follow the trace amount of odor left behind when somebody has been at a scene and left,” said Dr. Kenneth Furton, an expert who is a professor at Florida International University. “The dogs can pick up very tiny amounts of odor and follow either a direction or sometimes specifically to a person.”

There are all types of dogs, including German Shepherds, that are trained for search and rescue and other disciplines. Florida International University is now even training dogs to detect COVID. Dogs have mission-specific training, meaning that a dog will have one specific job to focus on.

“Essentially you’re teaching them what they are already bred to do, which is hunt,” said Sheena Leggett, a trainer with Manatee County Search and Rescue. “So you’re teaching them what you want them to specifically hunt, in order to get their reward.”

Rewards for these canines are usually praise, a toy, or food.

Although Manatee County Search and Rescue has yet to be called to help in the search for Brian Laundrie, they say they answer emergency calls around once every six days.

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