JoCoSAR is very proud of our K9 Team! Congratulations to Lynda and Beezley!
by Ann McGloon
JoCoSAR is very proud of our K9 Team! Congratulations to Lynda and Beezley!
by Ann McGloon
The engineers sent two dogs fitted with harnesses containing the robot into a simulated collapsed building. The dogs then released the equipment, allowing the robot to wriggle free.
The researchers hope the technology will one day be used to locate people trapped in places inaccessible to dogs.
They are working to make the robot faster over rubble and other debris.
A video of the experiment has been posted online by Carnegie Mellon University's biorobotics lab.Undulating joints
The machines are designed to move through their surrounding environment by altering the angles of the links that chain together the different segments of their bodies.
This is designed to mirror the way their natural counterparts move through "lateral undulation", the synchronised muscle contractions used by snakes that allow them to appear to be gliding over the ground.
"Snake robots can use their many internal degrees of freedom to thread through tightly packed volumes, accessing locations that people and machinery otherwise cannot use," the researchers wrote.
"Moreover, these highly articulated devices can co-ordinate their internal degrees of freedom to perform a variety of locomotion capabilities that go beyond the capabilities of conventional wheeled and the recently developed legged robots."
The search-and-rescue test involved sending the dogs through a concrete pipe into the "collapsed building" at the Teex Disaster City emergency-response training centre in Texas.
They had been trained to bark when they found a point of interest. When they did so, the harnessed unlocked and deployed the robots, which then sent back a video feed via an attached wire linking the machine to its operators.
One of the problems faced by the researchers was that as the robot twisted itself about, the video also rotated, making it difficult to navigate the machine.
However, the researchers told the BBC they had since come up with a software-based fix that ensured the video would always appear the right way up, whatever way the robot's camera was angled.
Previous tests by the team have involvedlaunching one of its snake robots up a tree, which it gripped onto.
The machine was able to do this thanks to accelerometers built into its segments, which detected when it hit the tree's bark. This then triggered a coiling action, wrapping the robot's body around a branch to prevent it falling off.
Earlier robots have successfully navigated their way through the inside of pipes, crawled into storm drains and swum through water while protected by a "waterproof skin".Sniff and search
Carnegie Mellon University is not the only organisation seeking to equip search-and-rescue dogs with the latest technology.
Berkshire-based firm Wood & Douglas has developed a video camera designed to be strapped onto a rescue dog's head to stream live footage back to base.
"Anything that can help an earthquake or disaster situation should be welcomed," said Chris Bignell, a spokesman for the company.
"We saw such a situation in Bangladesh last week where a building collapsed and a number of levels fell on top of each other.
"Whatever would speed up the process of being able to search everywhere in such an emergency is going to be helpful.
"But the advantage of still using rescue dogs is that they are trained to sniff out victims and locate them even if they can't see them, which you wouldn't get just by using a robot."
Samuel, a golden retriever and certified comfort dog belonging to the Rev. Mark Hein, pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Lockport, is living up to his namesake.
Samuel is in West, Texas, working with the first responders and survivors of last week’s deadly fertilizer plant explosion.
Last week, he brought cheer and comfort at Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet to patients who had been evacuated from Morris Hospital during last week’s flooding.
Recently, some dogs from the Lutheran Church Charities K9 Comfort Dog program, which trained Samuel, visited Newtown, Conn., where the Sandy Hook School shootings occurred in December. Hein said one dog significantly impacted a distressed boy who wasn’t opening up to the counselors.
“All of a sudden, he started talking to the dog. It was a breakthrough,” Hein said. “The counselors were able to work with him from there.”
On May 2, Hein, who also is fire chaplain for the Lockport Township Fire Protection District, will speak about the value of comfort dogs and his experiences with Samuel at the 80th annual Ladies Aid Missionary Lunch at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Joliet.
Hein acquired Samuel in August as part of a pilot program to determine if comfort dogs could be trained to also work as fire service dogs in search and rescue efforts.
Born in January 2012, Samuel worked with a trainer until Hein became his handler. The dog then worked further with a private trainer until January 2013. Samuel’s “alpha male” personality suggests he will make a good search and rescue dog, Hein said.
“He doesn’t shy away from sensory things some animals have problems with, such as loud noises and lights,” Hein said. “He also works well in tight corners. Some dogs shy away from them because they get claustrophobic.”
Because Hein is trained in critical incident stress debriefing, Samuel accompanied him to Coal City in October, after a man critically injured three village employees when he hit their public works vehicle. Samuel also accompanied Hein to Wilmington in March, when four teens died after their car dove into a creek.
Early Sunday, Hein, his wife, Donna, Samuel and four other comfort dogs and their handlers flew out of Wisconsin by private plane to Texas.
On the first day, the Rev. Matthew Canion, pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Waco, Texas, and chaplain for the Texas State Police, took the group on a tour of the city, going into areas not barricaded off so the dogs could offer comfort to those needing it. A day later, the dogs were visiting schoolchildren.
“People of every age just gravitate toward the dogs,” Hein said. “They (dogs) give them an opportunity if they want to talk. We’re just there to listen, comfort them and let them know we care.”
But even comfort dogs get down time, and Samuel is no exception. When he returns home, Samuel transitions into the family pet.
“He becomes a regular dog, but he’s still trained,” Hein said. “He doesn’t bark or run around like crazy. He’s well-mannered, that’s the best way to put it.”
Because Samuel’s training and work schedule can be grueling, he sleeps a lot otherwise. But the Heins refresh his training each day. Samuel knows about 24 commands.
“He’s trained to take verbal and hand commands and sign language,” Hein said. “He’s trained to look at his handler and do whatever we need him to do just by motioning.”
source Hat tip Ernie Coffman
A Thomasville Rescue Squad search and rescue dog died Monday and another one is on the mend after unrelated incidences occurred this past week.
Carver, a Border Collie who was certified by the Federal Emergency Management Association for disaster rubble rescue, died of injuries he sustained at the residence of his handler in southern Forsyth County after two pit bulls attacked the 4-year-old dog.
Foxi, a two-and-a-half year old Belgian Malanois, was released Friday after undergoing surgery as a result of an injury she suffered about a month ago while in a training session.
“I think the mood is pretty somber,” said Scott McCaskill, assistant chief of the Thomasville Rescue Squad. “These dogs were members of the (Thomasville Rescue Squad) family.”
The loss of Carver means Thomasville Rescue Squad has eight dogs, including Foxi who is expected to recover from her injuries. Carver was the only dog trained in rubble rescue.
Thursday, Carver was in his fenced backyard when one pit bull got over the fence and another dug under the fence, McCaskill said. The assistant chief said both of the pit bulls “viciously” mauled Carver. Carver died around noon at an emergency veterinarian hospital in Greensboro.
McCaskill declined to released the identity of Carver’s handler.
“It’s not going to be easy for the handler,” he said. “They were tightly bonded.”
The assistant chief said the pit bulls are in the custody of the Forsyth County Animal Shelter. McCaskill also declined to comment on his hopes for the future of the case.
“I know there is a law on the books,” he said. “I’ll leave that with the law enforcement to deal with that as the law requires.”
Forsyth County Animal Shelter Director Tim Jennings said the dogs would be euthanized late Monday evening or Tuesday morning. Animal control officers, the director said, are reviewing the case to determine possible charges against the owner of the dogs, Antonio Nowell.
“It’s clearly a human responsibility that those dogs got out,” he said.
Jennings said there was another incident in late January in which the dogs attacked another animal. The owners of that animal didn’t want to immediately press charges but in March agreed to testify against Nowell, the director said. Jennings said Nowell was informed the dogs were being labeled as dangerous. Nowell was required to build a kennel to house the dogs.
“It’s an unfortunate situation,” Nowell said in a phone interview. “We don’t raise our dogs to fight. … I complied with animal control and built the pins.”
Nowell apologized for the death of the rescue squad dog.
“I have tried everything to keep those dogs in,” he said. “They were just puppies. … I’m willing to make restitution and make things right. I don’t want to be portrayed as a bad dog owner.”
Nowell said he got a chain-linked fence after the first incident and the dogs dug from underneath of it to get out. He said he previously the dogs enclosed with chicken wire, but they climbed up the fence to get out.
Meanwhile, Foxi was involved in a training accident when she twisted a leg. She was taken to a local veterinarian, and later had surgery at the veterinarian school of N.C. State University. Thursday’s surgery went well and she is expected to return for duty late this summer.
Jay Whiteheart is Foxi’s handler. Foxi, an air scent dog, is trained to find lost people.
McCaskill said the handlers pay for the upkeep of the animals. He said the cost for Foxi’s medical bills are likely going to end at about $5,000. McCaskill also is expecting a big bill to be issued for Carver’s stay at the emergency veterinarian hospital.
Residents can help with the costs for the dogs by visiting www.res5cue.com or mail checks in the name of Thomasville Rescue Squad to P.O. Box 934, Thomasville, NC, 27361 and put “K-9 fund” in the memo line. A local Zumba instructor also will be having a fundraiser for the efforts for the dog’s medical costs at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Thomasville Rescue Squad’s headquarters at 211 Pine St. For more information, contact the rescue squad at 472-7520.
Last month dog Cliff helped search for the body of missing St. Paul resident Kara Trevino at Keller Lake, and last summer dog Gem helped find 5-year-old Scotty Meyer of Prescott, Wis.
Four years ago Stillwater resident Bouthilet, a veterinarian who owns Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Maplewood, joined a volunteer rescue group called the K-9 Emergency Response Teams (KERT) based in northwestern Wisconsin. She now spends several hours a week training her flat-coated retrievers to help track people in emergency situations.
“I obviously love to get people home,” said Bouthilet, 49, of the work. “But on a day-to-day basis I really love watching the dogs do what they’re capable of doing.”
Gem is certified as a wilderness area air-scent search dog and specializes in finding living people. Cliff is a human remains detection dog.
Bouthilet and her dogs have actively helped on about a dozen searches and served as backup on about 10 more. The 20-volunteer KERT group has mutual aid agreements with a number of other agencies and primarily addresses emergencies in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
An Edina native, Bouthilet joined Hillcrest in 1988 and since 2001 has been sole owner. She and her husband Patrick moved to Stillwater for its school systems; son Tim, now 25, and daughter Amy, now 23, graduated from St. Croix Lutheran High School.
Five years ago Bouthilet followed up on a long-term interest in training her dogs for rescues. Both had already earned show championships and been trained in agility.
After contacting KERT, she studied “the tremendous amount of information” involved and gained certification as a search and rescue technician via testing through the National Association for Search and Rescue.
“You have to know search theory, orienteering, survival skills, how to have a 24-hour pack ready … anything to do with a search,” she noted. “[You] learn about wind, how scent travels and all those kinds of things.”
The dogs were certified after participating in weekly or twice-weekly group training sessions in northwestern Wisconsin. Training of such dogs typically takes between 18 and 30 months and is conducted year-round so the dogs can work in all weather conditions, she said.
Dogs that search for human remains are trained using actual human tissue including placenta, teeth, bones and cremains, some purchased and some donated. They’re also trained to know the difference between human and animal remains.
The painstaking training itself involves inundating an object with a scent, familiarizing the dog with the object, then hiding it and rewarding the dog if it finds it. The same principle applies when finding living people.
“The dog is evaluated first to see if it’s really a good candidate,” Bouthilet explained. “You need a dog that has a lot of drive and will stick to something and not give up really easily. It also has to be willing to walk on various unstable surfaces ... there’s a certain amount of agility training, and a lot of obedience training. They have to be able to get along with other dogs … and people.”
Breeds chosen for training commonly include golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, German shepherds and Rottweilers. Most are 2 years old or younger.
“From the dog’s point of view, it’s all a big game, and you’re using their unique talents and just shaping them,” Bouthilet explained. “It’s no different than training a hunting dog using the same instincts.”
The most common mistake? Trying to train a dog in one function before it’s mastered another, she said.
At times Bouthilet has had to leave work to address search emergencies, and occasionally she’s called on to use her medical skills during searches.
Bouthilet is also a member of the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Reserve Corp., which plans for how animals would be dealt with during large-scale animal emergencies such as flooding, storms, disease outbreaks or radiological emergencies.
“It’s well understood that many people won’t evacuate from situations if they can’t take their pets along,” she explained.
In her spare time she likes to quilt and is a fan of mystery/crime TV shows and books and the BBC show “Dr. Who.” She’s also in the process of training her 8-month-old flat-coated retriever Jewel as an air scent search dog.
“I really strongly believe God gives us talents and interests that we should be using to help other people,” she noted. “Everybody is unique that way, and I’m lucky enough that I get to go [on searches]. What I’m most proud of is being associated with a bunch of people who are very professional about what they do.”
source Hat tip: Ernie Coffman
A brave dog named Rocky raced to the rescue of two drowning girls in Edmonton, Canada. Rocky and owner Adam Shaw were strolling near the North Saskatchewan River when they heard screams coming from beneath a bridge. Shaw spotted two little girls in the freezing water. They'd fallen through the ice while playing. Shaw and Rocky ran to get the girls and managed to pull the younger girl, 6, to safety, but the current carried her 9-year-old sister downriver. Shaw encouraged Rocky to jump in and get the girl. Then, using Rocky's leash, Shaw then helped pull the girl out. Rocky was given treats for his bravery. For Shaw, having a dog like Rocky may be reward enough.
The owner of a search-and-rescue dog left Lake County Juvenile Court on Friday upset over reduced charges against the 13-year-old boy accused of kidnapping the dog in September.
The 13-year-old boy, who was 12 at the time of the offense, pleaded true, or guilty, Friday to three misdemeanor counts: third-degree criminal mischief, fourth-degree disorderly conduct and first-degree petty theft.
Lake County Juvenile Court Judge Karen Lawson sentenced the boy to 10 days in the county Juvenile Detention Center with a possibility of an additional 260 additional days if he gets into any more trouble.
"You're going to get one chance today, and that is it," Lawson said. She also ordered the boy to enroll in counseling, receive a psychiatric assessment and to never contact the dog owner, Willis Rosch.
The boy's defense attorney, David Farren, recommended that he plead true. The boy could have faced juvenile jail time up to age 21 when he was charged with theft of a police dog, a third-degree felony, at his December arraignment.
"I am very disheartened that the charges were reduced from theft of a police K-9 to what they are now," said Rosch, who along with the dog is part of the Big Creek Search Dog Team.
"The dog is a certified K-9 that has been on multiple searches across the state and out of the state, including being involved in homicides." But Lake County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Barth said the charges were appropriate.
"Based on the facts of the case, we're entitled to exercise our prosecutory discretion, and we chose to do so in this case," Barth said. After the plea on Friday, the boy gave his side of what happened in September. He said he took the dog out of its cage and off Rosch's truck in Kirtland because he thought the dog needed to urinate. He said he never meant to kidnap it.
"On my way back, I saw the owner and I gave him the dog and said I was just letting him use the bathroom," the boy said. Lawson scrutinized the boy's story, and Rosch called it a lie.
"He stole my dog out of the back of my truck and proceeded into a bar that was in an adjacent building," Rosch said. People in the bar asked the boy if the dog was his and eventually called Kirtland police, Rosch said.
"His disrespect for law enforcement and adults is unlike anything I have ever seen from a child before," Rosch said. "The composure that was maintained by the police officers — they should be commended for it."
By JUSTIN PITTMAN Hat tip: Monica McFadden
Josie dove and rolled through mounds of fluffy powder, tail wagging, as she discovered a hidden playmate beneath the snow at Alpental Ski Area Friday. To Josie, a 3-year-old rescue dog, Friday’s discovery was fun and games, but her next find could mean the difference between life and death.
Josie and her handler Liz Stone, a Stevens Pass ski patroller, scoured a hillside in Alpental’s avalanche beacon training area searching for mock slide victims hidden to test Backcountry Avalanche Rescue K9s (BARK).
Washington’s BARK program, a statewide organization, trains teams of dogs and professional ski patroller handlers to help rescue avalanche victims buried in the Cascade Mountains. It includes six dogs and seven handlers based at Alpental in Kittitas County and teams at Crystal Mountain (west of Yakima) and Stevens Pass (west of Leavenworth).
Minutes earlier, Josie crisscrossed the hill searching for two BARK handlers and three scented sweaters buried beneath the snow, bounding through snow drifts and sniffing tree wells with Stone following nearby on skis. When Josie found a buried item or person, Stone requested other BARK rescuers to dig it up.
The test was Josie and Stone’s first attempt to earn their BARK certification so they can participate in rescues with the organization. They had 40 minutes to find the handlers (buried at a depth of at least one meter) and sweaters (buried at a depth of about a 1/2 meter). The clothing, which has a fainter scent than real people, was meant to simulate deeply buried avalanche victims. Avalanche victims, on average, find themselves buried about a meter beneath the snow.
Josie and Stone passed the test in 28 minutes.
“For our first time and my nerves, I think we did a pretty good job,” Stone said. She said the most nerve-wracking part was trying not to screw the dog up.
“She reads my body language to know what direction she needs to go and where she needs to be searching,” Stone said. She gives the dog directional cues with her body language.
More volunteers were buried minutes later, and a second team, Christina VonMertens and her dog Kala from Crystal Mountain, bounded up the hill. They would later pass their test in about 24 minutes.
BARK formed in 2004, and Alpental BARK dog handler Katherine Fitch estimates the organization has participated in about one to two rescues per year since then. BARK teams also work to ensure nobody is trapped when avalanches occur without witnesses. Avalanches kill about 25 people every year in the United States. Four people died in Washington last year.
Dogs usually take part in rescues when victims aren’t wearing an avalanche beacon or rescuers aren’t sure whether victims are wearing a beacon. But still, the practice is faster than humans searching beneath the snow with long, metal poles. Handlers estimated that searching the area Josie cleared Friday would take a large group of humans more than eight hours.
An avalanche victim’s chances of survival plummet after 15 minutes of burial, Fitch says.
Leticia Juarez Hat tip; Monica McFadden
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- A hiker trapped for days between rocks on Mt. Rubidoux without food or water may have never been found if it wasn't for another hiker and his dog.
Riverside resident Ramon Llamas and his dog, Mole, hike Mt. Rubidoux three to four times a week. On Monday morning, their routine hike turned into a rescue mission when the 1-year-old canine discovered something moving in the rocks.
"He likes to go look in the rocks and he kind of pulled me over, pulling and crying and I said, 'What's going on boy?'" Llamas said.
Llamas feared it was a coyote lurking in the outcropping of rocks. In the early morning darkness, Llamas said all he saw were two eyes staring back at him. But then Llamas realized it was a man, so he called to him asking if he needed help.
"He said, 'I need water, please don't leave me.' So I gave him water from my backpack and in a minute he said, 'You got more?' So I give more water," Llamas said.
Although the trapped hiker was less than 100 feet from the main trail, no one could hear his calls for help because he was trapped and hidden in the rocks. The 44-year-old hiker told Llamas his name was Paul and that he had no idea how long he had been shut in.
"He said he'd been there between four and six days with no food," Llamas said.
The trapped hiker, who apparently did not have a cellphone with him at the time, said he tried to dig himself out, but couldn't.
Llamas and a group of fellow hikers called 911. Firefighters with the Riverside Fire Department's Technical Rescue Team hiked to the location and helped pull the severely dehydrated hiker to safety.
"In talking to him, he came up here during the night time, so we think he was unaware of his footing, slipped in between some rocks and slid down to the location where he was at," said Riverside Fire Capt. Bruce Vanderhorst.
Thankfully, Mole's keen senses helped alert his owner to a man in desperate need of help. Mole, who is a rescue dog, perhaps is returning the favor.
The rescued hiker was recovering at Riverside Community Hospital. According to a hospital official, the man said he wanted to thank Llamas and his dog for finding him.
By Craig Brown Hat tip: Monica McFadden
Cadaver dogs and trained searchers from Cowlitz and Clark counties have discovered a skull and clothing that may belong to a Kelso man missing since 2010.
According to the Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office, the remains may be those of Sam Stefonek, 29, who was reported missing in the Mount Brynion area northeast of Kelso in August 2010. He had quarreled with a girlfriend prior to his disappearance. Only his phone and a few items of clothing were ever found.
The area had been searched a half-dozen times since the man disappeared, but searchers determined to give it another try Saturday. More than 40 people and two trained dogs worked the scene, finding the skull and a partially buried article of clothing, about a mile from where Stefonek was last seen.
The skull, which did not bear any sign of trauma, will be analyzed by the Cowlitz County Medical Examiner to see if it is Stefonek's.
Searchers on the scene this weekend included Washougal-based Silver Star Search and Rescue, Clark County Search and Rescue and the Lower Columbia Amateur Radio Members. Cadaver dogs were handled by Wade Boyd and Sharon Ward.