Valley K9 Handlers Explain Search, Rescue Training
EDINBURG – A Rio Grande Valley training center explained search and rescue dogs are just as important as their handlers if not more in a disaster zone.
Marty and Leslie Vielma have more than 20 years of K9 search and rescue experience. They own and operate the canine training Centre in Edinburg.
Together they've trained dozens of dogs in the art of searching through nothing more than a cotton swab off the person.
"If it's a search and rescue dog, you want a dog that can learn to detect the human scent. And if the dog has been trained to detect a specific human scent then the dog will be given the opportunity to smell a piece of clothing or article that we know that the missing person was seen touching or wearing that we know has the scent of the person that they're looking for,” explained Mart Vielma, who’s also a certified master dog trainer.
He mentioned a dog's nose is their biggest ally when looking for someone trapped in rubble or debris.
"To train a dog for like a disaster situation or search and rescue, you want a dog that has been trained to indicate by either barking or what they call a passive indication of them sitting down or laying down next to where the scent is coming from,” he said.
Vielma added there are different types of indications a dog can use.
"We've trained dogs for law enforcement. And dogs that go into law enforcement, part of the training is to track a fleeing suspect that's running from the officer, so you have the type of training where the dog is trying to find what we call the hot track,” he said.
In this case, like a law enforcement dog, the indication would usually be barking when they find the suspect.
The Vielma’s mentioned dogs are crucial in the life-saving process of a disaster or law enforcement because the dogs offer a quick response when trying to find a person.