KENTWOOD, Mich. – Practice makes perfect, the same can be said for dogs used to help find missing people.
That training was happening in the Kentwood neighborhood of Bailey’s Grove on Monday night. The volunteers involved call it life-saving work.
Whenever a person goes missing the first call is usually to the local law enforcement like the Kent County Sheriff’s Department or any local police department.
Along with the law enforcement is a team of volunteers that help in the search. FOX 17 had a chance to see the practice in action.
Here’s how it works: Four volunteers, or ‘rabbits’ as they are called by members of the Kent County Search and Rescue Team, are asked to leave a possession behind that has their scent on it.
The items are placed into a bag and the ‘rabbits’ are given a map with a predetermined route on it.
Once they are in place, the dogs are given the scent and the hunt begins.
Each dog is with a handler who are now searching for the volunteers.
The dogs and handlers are accompanied by another team member who determines how well each dog is doing while they track down the people acting as missing subjects.
Once the drill is over, the team meets up and analyzes the results.
A drill like this is conducted on a weekly basis. For handlers like David Homant these drills are crucial so mistakes are made in real life scenarios, “The dogs have to constantly practice those skills to stay sharp and we humans are never done learning the dogs.”
Each person participating is a volunteer, one of 60 that make up the Kent County Search and Rescue Team.
According to team member Brian Toronyi, they go through 100 hours of training each year. Just part of what it takes to be a member of this team, “All the gear is out of own pocket. You can spend a lot of money and the time commitment is big.”
The team is always looking for new volunteers. This Wednesday, at the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, the Kent County Search and Rescue Team is holding a meeting for anyone who may be considering joining the team.
The meeting starts at 7:00pm, anyone who is interested in attending is asked to register. You can do so by following the instructions on the team’s Facebook page.