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World Search dogs lead hunt for more victims of Montecito mudslide

02:06  11 january  2018
02:06  11 january  2018 Source:   latimes.com

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A Santa Barbara County Fire Department search dog looks for victims in a heavily damaged home in Montecito after a deadly mudslide . For first responders searching through the mud and wreckage, their furry companions become more than just assistants.

For first responders searching through the muck and wreckage for victims of the Montecito mudslide , their furry companions The dogs are a key piece of the rescue effort in a neighborhood of Montecito buried by mud . Read more : Death toll rises from Santa Barbara County mudslides .

Santa Barbara County Fire search dog looks for victims in damaged and destroyed homes in Montecito following deadly runoff of mud and debris from heavy rain overnight.© Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department Santa Barbara County Fire search dog looks for victims in damaged and destroyed homes in Montecito following deadly runoff of mud and debris from heavy rain overnight. The small white border collie with black spots ran up the side of what used to be a roof of a house at Olive Mill and Hot Springs roads with his handler, Capt. Davis Doty of the Orange County Fire Authority. “Kneel!” Doty yelled at Jester. He obeyed.

For first responders searching through the mud and wreckage, their furry companions become more than just assistants.

“We spend hours every day together, bonding and training,” Doty said. “He’s great.”

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A Santa Barbara County Fire Department search dog looks for victims in a heavily damaged home in Montecito after a deadly mudslide . For first responders searching through the mud and wreckage, their furry companions become more than just assistants. “We spend hours every day together

Read more : Search dogs lead hunt for more victims of Montecito mudslide . “At this moment, we are still looking for live victims ,” Pitney said. But he confessed: “The likelihood is increasing that we’ll be finding bodies, not survivors.

Jester is one of eight search-and-rescue dogs scouring the mud and rubble after Tuesday’s deadly mudslide.

The dogs are a key piece of the rescue effort in a neighborhood of Montecito buried by mud. At least 15 bodies have been recovered, and the search is continuing.

Jester and the seven other dogs were trained by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, a nonprofit that rescues shelter dogs and trains them for disaster search-and-rescue work. The organization then provides them free of charge to handlers at fire departments and other first-response agencies.

Even though the foundation’s 125-acre facility in Santa Paula was damaged when the Thomas fire swept through, burning parts of the dog-training area, and staff and dogs had to evacuate for 18 days, Sanders said they remained dedicated to continuing their mission.

Oprah among celebrities hit by mudslides

  Oprah among celebrities hit by mudslides Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and the Hadid sisters are among some of the celebrities affected by the deadly mudslides in California. Heavy rain in Southern California has triggered mudslides that have left at least 15 people dead and the whole town of Montecito.Some of the residents of the 9,000-strong town include A-listers, who have been sharing pictures of the damage and sending prayers to their neighbours on social media."What a day," Oprah wrote, sharing short videos on Instagram of gas fires, mudslides and helicopters."Praying for our community again in Santa Barbara. Woke up to this blazing gas fire.

Search -and-rescue teams are still looking for victims and survivors in the rubble and debris left by massive mudslides in Montecito . This story will be updated as more information becomes available about the people who lost their lives in Montecito .

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“It never gets old to see the search-and-rescue dogs doing their job.”

Sanders said Jester was set to be euthanized after his owners left him at a shelter. She said Jester graduated the training school in 2008.

Two more dogs are scheduled to arrive on Wednesday.

Jester is eager to work. His eyes remained glued to Doty as they walked side by side through the mud. Doty said Jester hasn’t found any survivors.

“I can’t believe I’m standing in Montecito,” Doty said as he and Jester got ready to press on with their search. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Xero, another search dog, worked her way up a tangle of trees and muds, trying to catch any scent of someone alive in debris piles along Hot Springs Road.

The nearly 4-year-old dog and her handler, Julie Purcell, arrived in the area Tuesday afternoon and started working Wednesday morning. Xero was just certified last March and this is their first real search, said Purcell, 52.

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Search . By the time tons of mud and debris started flowing down fire-scorched hillsides and into Montecito neighborhoods early Tuesday, it was too late for most residents still inside their homes, and there was no way to escape.

The death toll from the Montecito mudslides has climbed to 20. Authorities continue to search for people missing after the deluge. Mourners gather for a candlelight vigil outside the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunday for victims of the Montecito mudslides .

“This is her first time, so she’s pretty wound up,” Purcell said. “There are a lot of places to search, a lot of work to do for everybody.”

Xero is very independent and willing to go into places and search very easily, Purcell said. “I always wanted to do this. I brought her specifically for this,” she said.

“It’s very overwhelming,” Purcell said of the scene in Montecito. “The pictures you see on TV and the news are quite different from what you see when you’re here in real life and you realize the scope of it ... It’s devastating seeing the damage and knowing how hard it’s going to be for so many people to move on.”

“If we’re able to save a life, that’s wonderful. But I think the most ideal thing would be if we were to clear this whole area and not find anybody in here at all and just have property damage to deal with,” Purcell said.

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