Iowa Women And Their Trained Dogs Volunteer To Look For Missing People

Fernie, British Columbia, Canada

(Picture Credit: Penny Kendall/Design Pics/Getty Images)

Disappearances and missing persons are among the most tragic cases not only for the victims, but especially for the families. Grief continues with no closure. This is why a group of women volunteers in Iowa have made it their calling to train dogs and handlers to help out with search and rescue missions in any way they can.

The organization is nothing formal. All of the handlers come from different backgrounds. Member Marsha Patterson is a firefighter and emergency medical technician, and Cheri Sorensen is an artist. However, both are capable and skilled at being handlers for search and rescue with their trained dogs.

The volunteers work in any weather or season, but they do just that: volunteer. They volunteer their time to stay within the organization’s budget and ensure that they offer the best help they can give. There are 15 certified wilderness search dog handlers based in Iowa with six women among the group, and their efforts have been praised all around.

Practicing To Save A Life

The dogs who are trained for search and rescue missions have their own specializations. For one, the training is different with law enforcement dogs in that they focus on tracking skin follicle scents. There is also a division of tasks because some dogs are able to find remains while others can find living humans in the area. This makes every rescue mission even more efficient.

The Iowa search and rescue group has already assisted in various missions. They have even helped out in states like Kansas, South Dakota, and Illinois. Even when members of the group are not working a case, they practice for hours and travel to seminars to keep their skills sharp. They expect nothing in return; their reward is the closure they can bring through finding a missing person.

Training Dogs To Find Missing Loved Ones

Search and rescue canine unit at work in the desert.

(Picture Credit: photosbyjim/Getty Images)

This is not the first time or the first state to actually use canine help for missing person cases. In Henderson County, Tennessee, members of the public can train with their dogs to get certified to help law enforcement with human remains detection.

“We have four classes going on and we have beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes on land,” said Instructor David Sullivan in an interview. “And this is the water class, and this is a lot of drowning recoveries.”

Both people and dogs participate in the class as teams. Trained dogs can even find remains in the water so the divers will have a more focused area where they will work. This cuts down on the amount of time divers have to spend under water and makes their search efforts that much safer.

What do you think of the efforts of these women and search-and-rescue groups? Would you volunteer your dog for this kind of training? Let us know in the comments below!

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