Rescue dogs

Search and rescue dogs play an important role in finding missing people, including Brian Laundrie

PARRISH, Fla. (WWSB) — The 11 dogs that are part of the Manatee County Search and Rescue team are not only beautiful animals, but also very intelligent and well-trained. Ten of their dogs are scent hounds looking to find a missing person who is hopefully still alive and the other is a trained hound looking for human remains.

“Dogs are instrumental in the search for a missing person because they can do the work of a hundred people,” said John Elwood, Manatee County Search and Rescue Assistant Chief. “They can clear large swaths of land in a short time.”

These dogs looking for a missing person like Brian Laundrie smell a person’s clothing and are trained to find that person.

“They could be extremely useful because we don’t have instrumental techniques that can track the scent trail left by someone who’s been on the scene and gone,” said Dr Kenneth Furton, an expert who is a professor at Florida International University. “Dogs can pick up very small amounts of scent and either follow a direction or sometimes specifically follow a person.”

There are all types of dogs, including German Shepherds, that are trained for search and rescue and other disciplines. Florida International University is now even training dogs to detect COVID. Dogs have mission specific training, which means a dog will have a specific job to focus on.

“Essentially you’re teaching them what they’re already bred for, which is hunting,” said Sheena Leggett, trainer with Manatee County Search and Rescue. “So you teach them what you want them to hunt specifically, in order to get their reward.”

Rewards for these dogs are usually praise, a toy, or food.

Although Manatee County Search and Rescue has not yet been called to help with the search for Brian Laundrie, they say they respond to emergency calls about once every six days.

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