Go ‘missing’ and help to train a dog

Dominique BayensGeraldton Guardian
Some of Geraldton Dog Rescue’s dogs have become missing person finders but Josey here is still looking for an owner.
Camera IconSome of Geraldton Dog Rescue’s dogs have become missing person finders but Josey here is still looking for an owner. Credit: Geraldton Dog Rescue

Local group Tracking Dogs Geraldton is looking for people to act as missing people to help train its tracking dogs.

Tracking Dogs Geraldton secretary and dog handler Alison Cairn said the dogs were available for call-outs, at the discretion of the WA Police and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, to assist in searches for people who have gone missing.

“Some of our dogs are also trained to search in water and others for a cadaver if a person is possibly deceased,” she said.

“With a missing person who’s still alive, everyone has their own unique scent and the dogs can distinguish that smell.

“With a deceased person the cadaver scent is a very specific one that the dogs are trained to track.”

The group was formed in September, and is yet to have an active call-out but Ms Cairn said there was a regular need for the tracking dogs.

“People go missing all the time,” she said.

“It still blows my mind about how they are able to distinguish and track scents that could be old or disturbed and interrupted in some way.”

Ms Cairn said the group was always on the lookout for new people to act as missing people.

“The dogs always like to look for new people,” she said.

“They get quite excited when it’s not just the same old person that they are sent out to look for.

“So that person would go for a bit of a walk, and when we’re ready to find them they would hide at a designated end point and then we’d put the dog on the track to locate them.”

Any breed of dog can be trained, and two of Tracking Dogs Geraldton’s animals have come from Geraldton Dog Rescue.

“Both of these dogs had some insecurities from their past but the training and socialising with other dogs has really helped them come along in leaps and bounds and become these amazing trackers that we know they can be,” Ms Cairn said.

Anyone interested in getting involved can contact the group through its Facebook page, Tracking Dogs Geraldton, or by phoning 0468 924 800.

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