I was going to spend all week talking about BlogPaws, but I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about whether Küster will be going to search in Oklahoma for the victims of the tornadoes there. There short answer is no, but I thought I would explain a little bit about why.
The biggest reason is that Küster isn’t certified yet. He is very good at what he does, but an actual disaster is not a place to take a dog for training. There’s no practice in this situation, there are people’s lives actually in the balance. While I don’t have any doubt that a lot of people would enjoy Küster’s antics, there are liability issues involved that mean he can’t do actual searches until he has his certification. Search and Rescue dog certifications are very demanding and specific.
That leads into my next reason. Küster is learning to do what’s called “live find” and tracking. He is given a specific human scent from an article of clothing or something else very personal to the victim. He then finds where that specific person has gone by following their scent on the ground. By comparison, our friend Buzz is learning “area search.” He goes out to search through an area and find any human scent, not one specific human scent. Area search dogs are much more likely to be used in the situation in Oklahoma, because they don’t know exactly who they’re searching for. There could be people in that debris that nobody even knows about. There will probably also be cadaver dogs searching for bodies. I’m not saying that no live find dogs would be needed, but it’s much less likely in the conditions they’re working in right now.
Another reason is that search and rescue dogs are called into situations like that in a very specific fashion. Groups from Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma were called. Teams in Missouri were put on standby. Illinois, Indiana, and Tennessee have sent letters offering mutual aid if it becomes necessary, which it might as the current dogs working will soon be too fatigued to work and will need a break. People with SAR dogs don’t just start randomly showing up. Having teams from specific areas means that they can direct the searches and organize them to make sure that every area is searched, nothing is missed and that it’s done when the area has been cleared and deemed safe enough for them to enter. Searches are done in a sort of grid format, and they don’t want people randomly wandering through them in a haphazard manner.
So, Küster and Mr. Taleteller are still on the bench this time. There will be a time when they will go search, and it will probably be in the near future. That doesn’t mean that there’s nothing that we can do to help. It just means that we’ll be helping in other ways from here at home. The good news is that you can help from home, too. You can donate to the Red Cross. They are providing direct aid to those who have been displaced by the disaster.
Another good place to donate to is the National Search Dog Foundation. They find dogs in shelters that have potential as SAR dogs and train them. If the dogs don’t work out for SAR, they place them in homes. Before you donate to anyone, be sure to look into their organization and make sure they’re legitimate. Unfortunately, when a major disaster strikes, there are less than honest individuals who will try to cash in on the generosity and goodwill of others. I’m not saying that there aren’t other legitimate agencies out there providing aid, but I am saying that you should ask questions and do research before you give your money to anyone.
I realize this is a lot more information than you needed to know about whether or not the Black Tornado is going to Oklahoma, but hopefully it helps the answer make more sense. The truth is, there are things all of us can do to help, even if we don’t have a Search and Rescue dog in our house. We all have time, money or other things that we can donate to help out when disaster strikes.