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!