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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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For first responders searching through the muck and wreckage for victims of the Montecito mudslide , their furry companions become more 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

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 A Santa Barbara County Fire Department search dog looks for victims in a heavily damaged home in Montecito after a deadly mudslide .

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

The victims range in age from 3 years old to 89; all were residents of Montecito . The cause of death for most of the individuals was listed as "Multiple traumatic injuries Search -and-rescue teams are still looking for victims and survivors in the rubble and debris left by massive mudslides in Montecito .

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.

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Read more : Search dogs lead hunt for more victims of Montecito mudslide . “At this moment, we are still looking for live victims ,” Pitney said. A mudslide has transformed a portion of Montecito into something resembling a post-apocalyptic movie. Juan carlo/the star.

“As with so many other families, we know that as their house came down around them, our girls clung to each other as best they could while being washed The Benitez family had lived in Montecito for a number of years. Robin Lewis said they worked for her, as well as about 10 families in her Goleta

“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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Read more : Montecito mudslide victims identified, including 4 kids. Allison Blazer said she’s been making the rounds for a couple of days. Read more : Search dogs lead hunt for more victims of Montecito mudslide . Capt. Gary Pitney, a spokesman for the city of Santa Barbara Fire Department

Mudslide victim Roy Rohter and his wife, Theresa Rohter. After leading his troop on a January hike and campout in the hills above Montecito , he wrote in a post on the Noozhawk website The wealth of Montecito never fazed him much . He remained fiercely independent and frugal, raking leaves out

“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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