Thursday, June 2, 2011


You probably heard about the humongous, horrible tornado that hit Joplin, MO on May 22, and about how a lot of people got killed because their houses fell on top of them.  But not everybody got killed.  Some people just got trapped in their houses, and they couldn't get out.  It has taken about a week and a half to find all the people and bodies, and it wasn't easy work because the places where the tornado went were smashed to smithereens.

Luckily, in situations like the one in Joplin, people are smart enough to bring in lots of search-and-rescue dogs to sniff everything and find people who are still alive, as well as people who aren't.  This is very important work, and humans can't do it nearly as well as dogs can, since dogs have a much better sense of smell.  Which is something I have mentioned to you several times before.  So now I will tell you about some of the dogs who have been working in Joplin to find the tornado victims.

Two of these dogs, Huck and Jagger, were rescued from shelters in California back in 2007, and then they were trained by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation in Ojai.  Now they and their handlers work for the Fire Department in Oklahoma City, which is just a few hours' drive from Joplin.  So they were able to get to the disaster site pretty quickly.

Huck is a 4-year old chocolate lab who came from the East Bay SPCA in San Francisco.  While he was there, he was called Huckleberry Hound, and he was very possessive of his toys.  So the shelter called a woman who trains dogs for Drug and Explosive Detection, and she tested Huck.  He passed the test, so he was accepted for training.  Soon Huck's trainers found out that he could do all sorts of clever things like open gates, undo latches, and climb fences.  In August, 2009, Huck finished his training and was certified for search and rescue work.

Huck and his handler, Brent Koeninger

Jagger is a male yellow lab who is 5 years old.  He was rescued from Haven Humane Society, near Redding, CA.  Jagger was a stray, and he was very thin and sick when he first got to the shelter.  But even though he didn't feel too great, Jagger was really excited about balls and about chasing them.  While he was in training, Jagger got all healthy again.  He earned his official state certification in August, 2009, the same as Huck did.

Jagger and handler, Jason Smith

Huck and Jagger, along with their handlers, arrived in Joplin about 2:00 a.m. the morning after the tornado.  They went right to work and searched about 40 buildings during their first work shift.  They alternated working shifts with two teams from Tulsa.  Search-and-rescue dogs, like Huck and Jagger, just look for people who are still alive.  There is another kind of dog called a "cadaver dog," who looks for dead people.

Here's a picture of Goose, a border collie who is trained to do both search-and-rescue and cadaver work.  Goose and his (or her) handler, Robin Houston, are from the Kansas City Police Department K-9 unit.

Jewel, who is a weimaraner, is also trained to look for both living and dead victims.  Jewel's handler is Carrie Grove, who is with the Missouri Search and Rescue K-9 of Kansas City, MO.

Joliet, IL also sent a dog and two handlers to Joplin.  The dog's name is Zeus, and he's a 5-year-old German shepherd.  I don't have a picture of Zeus, but it shouldn't be too hard for you to imagine a German Shepherd Dog sniffing around in the ruins.

Here's another dog and handler, and they are looking in the ruins of a church to see if they can find any bodies.

This dog is named Treaker, and his handler is Rich Enochs, of Mid-America K-9 Search and Rescue.  They were looking for a 16-month-old boy who got blown out of his mother's arms.  Later on, the boy's body was found in a morgue, so that was very sad.

One day while a search-and-rescue dog was sniffing around, he alerted his handler to tell him that there was someone alive under the rubble.  The people got all excited and began digging.  Soon they heard a groan, and then they pulled out a dog!  The dog seemed very happy to be out of the place where it was trapped.  I hope it has got back to its people by now.  Here's a picture of the happy, rescued dog.

And here's a picture of a dog who is just waiting for her humans to come back home and give her some supper.

A lot of pets were rescued and taken to a big warehouse sort of place that was filled with cages and dog crates.  A veterinarian and two vet techs from the Kansas City Humane Society went to Joplin last week for a few days to help with the animals.  A lot of them had broken bones and also wounds that had to be stitched up because of getting hurt in the tornado.  People who had lost their dogs or cats came to the rescue place, and a bunch of them found their animals, so that made everybody happy.

Anyway, yesterday the list of missing people finally got all the way down to zero.  The total right now of people killed is 134, but it's possible a few more people will die from their injuries.  The search-and-rescue dogs and their handlers went over the area at least 6 times where the tornado destroyed everything, and that adds up to a whole lot of sniffing!


  1. Well, I am so GLAD those people are okay! And you know there was supposed to be a tornado in New York yesterday where I live? good thing it didn't happen, but if it did, I wouldn't probably survive it, but Tas would've because she never stays long in her apartment, only after school she stays until 7 or 8 o' clock and then leaves me behind to her house where she has a CLEAN and EMPTY basement. I think she should really start taking me in case of a tornado! I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't! Also if I don't make it, I hope I get disintegrated in peace. Oh silly me, I should stop talkin' 'bout me! I have to tell you they were lucky that not everybody in that place got injured because most of 'em survived which is good. But all these natural devastations scare me because they hurt so many! EEK!

    P.S. I hope you enjoyed the story Ash wrote, it is pretty intense at the beginning and yeah, he was right, he TOTALLY fooled me! If you don't know what I'm talking bout then maybe if you want, you could read it. Or if you don't want to it's okay as well!


  3. Hanah (white english bulldog) has been missing since the tornado if anyone has info about her here is her FB page. Bring Hanah Home. May be one of the rescuers seen her.
    Thank you
    Kathy Slach Arkansas

  4. I hope somebody finds Hanah! It's very sad that she is still missing.


  5. Thank you! Me too..

  6. Hey! Did you know that the best Water Rescue Dogs are Newfoundlands! Swimming out to save lives! My parents have 2 of them. Zeus and Venus. They're absolutly great dogs! I've Quite a funny tale to tell about them. We were on holiday with the dogs, we went to a nearby river and I wanted to see which dog was the best swimmer, and i'm not a great swimmer myself, so i waided to the other side of the river not expecting there to be a huge drop in the middle and i went under, meanwhile my parents were at the other side with the dogs on their leads and icing to swim, well venus snapped her lead and jumped into the water and zeus soon followed, i got to the surface just when venus reached me and she jumped on me pushing me under again and again, i was trying to get back to the side i came from when zeus dove under and beside me helping me to the surface again, he didn't leave my side and looked so worried about me, my dad had to jump in to get me out, when i was up on my feet there was blood running down my face, we got it cleaned up and realised my eyelid was cut, it was from when venus repeatedly jumped on me in the river, i was lucky it wasn't that deep of a cut and it didn't hurt at all because the shear cold of the river froze my skin. I had a huge black eye a while later. It was a funny experience when you look back now but not at the time, hehehe.
    Tale Ended.

  7. Thank you for sharing that story about your Newfies. I think Venus thought you were just playing, so that's why she kept jumping on you. But Zeus was the brave and sensible dog that saved your life, which I'll bet you're glad he did!


  8. Hello, I'm Brian and I've been searching for years for the original photographer of the very last photo. That is my dog Marley. The details of the story is pretty long. I would be happy got give an interview and update on myself an Marley, that is if you would be interest. If you want reach out to me in the comments or let me know if you need my email. Thanks!

    1. Hi, Brian,
      Thanks for commenting in my blog. Back in the early days of my blog (like when this entry was written) I didn't give proper credit for the photos I used, so I can't really tell you where I got the one of your dog or who the photographer was. Sorry about that! Nowadays, I rarely find time to write a blog entry, so even though an update on you and Marley would be interesting, I really wouldn't have time to do anything with it. I'm very happy that you were reunited with Marley after the tornado.
      Best wishes!

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