Seminar invites K9s, handlers, and expert trainers across the nation
SARASOTA COUNTY - Sarasota's K9 Search and Rescue force invited K9s, their handlers, and skilled trainers from across the country to a human remains search this week.
K9s might just look like furry friends, but like most Americans, they go to work everyday. Russ Russland, Team Leader of Sarasota K9 Search and Rescue said, "We just take their natural instincts and abilities and we hone them into things that we can then read into as a human."
Trainers utilize the K9's heightened sense of smell."We like to say we're on the dumb end of the leash. The dog is on the smart end. The dogs are phenomenal. They have a high play, prey, and hunt drive, which is important," he said.
Sarasota's volunteer K9 Search and Rescue hosts biannual seminars, inviting top experts from across the country to train pairs from Canada to Florida to locate a missing person. In this week's seminar, he said, "To recover deceased human remains. It brings closure to families and it helps law enforcement."
The seminar invited 18 pairs of K9s and their handlers head to Oscar Scherer State Park in Venice to be taken through 3 separate scenarios, where human remains are strategically scattered.
"This first one that we're at here is under a trestle and there's a stream that's got flowing water," he said. The station is fit to condition K9s to a tropical climate. He said, "We have the shade, we have the water, that all factors into the way that the odor move."
The next station was burnt field, where K9s combatted the odor of smoke to find the remains. The last station was thick grassland. It was a challenge for Ted Katauskas, fielding for the Eagle County Sheriff's Office in Colorado.
"It's all uphill and you have to be in very good physical shape. Here, it's mostly flat." he said. It was an adjustment for his K9, Halo, wearing a foil vest to stay cool.
But Katauskas said it's well worth it "To work with trainers that are from law enforcement and really respected organizations, people that have deep, deep experience is going to be a huge leap forward for both him and I," he said.
All members Sarasota K9 Search and Rescue are volunteers. The non–profit relies solely on donations. To donate click here.