Southeast Shelby County Rescue Department collecting donations to certify K-9 team

The Southeast Shelby County Rescue Department is seeking donations to help the department improve its seven-dog K-9 unit.

Department officials are looking for help in certifying two of its area search dogs and one of its cadaver dogs to aid in the department’s search, rescue and investigative efforts, said Capt. Les Brown.

The department is planning to take the trio of dogs to a North American Police Dog Association training workshop March 1-5 in Perry, Fla., Brown said. Because the workshop will cost about $900 per person, the department is asking for donations to ensure its dog team is up to national standards.

“We are just hoping to bolster some support for this,” Brown said. “A handler and the dog are considered a team, and they have to be certified every year.”

Southeast Shelby County Rescue’s seven-dog team is comprised of search dogs, area search dogs and cadaver dogs, and plays a major role in the department’s search and rescue cases, Brown said.

Trainers keep search dogs on a leash as the animals follow scent trails to track their targets, but area search dogs can run free as they search an area for people and things. Cadaver dogs are trained to find human remains, Brown explained.

Over the past few years, the dogs have helped solve cases, have worked with the FBI and have located missing people, Brown said.

Because the station is a nonprofit agency, other county agencies, including Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry, have funded the training trip in the past. However, tight budgets across the county and the state may affect the rescue department’s ability to fund the trip.

“Our main goal is to help people. We have been blessed with some great dogs here, and they are really an asset,” Brown added. “If my mother walked off, I would definitely want someone to be able to go out and find her.”

For more information about donating to the Southeast Shelby County Rescue Department, call the department at 669-4866, Brown at 669-1576 or visit Southeastshelbycountyrescue.org.