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Feb 6, 2013 10:17 AM

K9 "Oreo" helps search and rescue crews find the lost

TUCSON - From missing children, to stranded hikers. When the search is on, every second can count.

That's why emergency crews use all sorts of resources, from helicopters to feet on the ground, to conduct a rescue.

But they often also depend on our four-legged friends.

Oreo is a certified search and rescue dog for Southwest Arizona Rescue Inc. The non-profit, volunteer organization is often called upon by the Pima County Sheriff's Department to conduct rescues. "Our job is to find the lost," says Tracy Kranz, Oreo's trainee.

She adopted the half blue heeler, half border collie, from the Pima Animal Care Center. "He's all business, he loves work," Kranz says.

About once a week, the duo brushes up on their search and rescue skills with a game of hide and seek. "The initial process is teaching them to recognize scent," Kranz says.

She introduces Oreo to the scent of a cloth that belongs to her mother, who's hiding a few hundred yards away.

Depending on distance and weather, the search can last anywhere from a few minutes, to several days. "These dogs rely on wind to bring scent to them," Kranz says. "If there is no wind, there's nothing to carry the scent to them, so that makes it much harder. They would have to pretty much be on top of the person to find them."

With the promise of sausage as his incentive, it takes Oreo about 15 minutes to locate Kranz's mother. "This dog smiles from nose to tail when he gets the job done," Kranz says. "he loves every bit of it."

To learn more about Oreo, you can head to his Facebook page called "K9 Oreo".

To learn more about Southwest Arizona Rescue Inc. head to www.sarci.org/SRDI.htm

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