Fort Riley, Kansas



Canines search for humans lost in wilds

By Kalene Lozick | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | November 10, 2017

     The Kansas Search and Rescue Dog Association returned to Fort Riley for their bi-annual K-9 training Nov. 1 to 5.

     The K-9s are trained every two years for wilderness live-find training and every three years on disasters, said Sheila Stern, KSARDA director. The dogs are training to recertify their international certifications.

    The K-9s had a nighttime 80 acre, one victim search wilderness training run Nov. 2, followed by a 160-acre, two-victim search morning run Nov. 3, Stern said.

    Kansas Search and Rescue Dog Association has approximately 100 Federal Emergency Management Agency certified Human Remains Detection dogs, said Lee Jones, supervisory range operations specialist.

      The state of Kansas has the highest number of detection dogs in one state, Stern said.

     “We have a Kansas City area group, a Manhattan area group and a Wichita area group,” she said. “So there are probably 20 plus K-9s in Kansas just for our team.”

      The partnership between Fort Riley and KSARDA began with the owner, a retired Army service member.

      “The founder of (KSARDA) is retired military,” she said. “Three and a half years ago we did a certification out here.”

      Last summer, KSARDA came back to Fort Riley for a summer full-scale exercise.

      On an individual scale, Stern talked about the training process to teach K-9s how to search for a human scent.

      “We do the bark barrels,” Stern said.

     “There are some barrels with a bunch of toys (inside) and others we throw steak in and another we’ll throw clothes in and we train them to completely ignore those scents and go to the human sent.”

      When the dogs have located the human, they’ll bark and the handler will award the HRD dog with a toy.

      The human scent is what the HRD dogs are trained to find, especially in a wilderness and a disaster scenario, Stern said.

     Taryn, a Labrador born in 2013 from Jenner’s Run and KSARDA K-9, demonstrated a wilderness live-find test run Nov. 3 to locate Ruth Hensleigh, KSARDA handler.

     Hensleigh took her position in covered brush just minutes before Stern released Taryn. The K-9 ran into the tallgrass as she followed the human scent of Hensleigh.

      With every turn, Taryn got closer to Hensleigh’s location.

      Within minutes, barks filled the air. The barks indicate a human has been found.

      Taryn has speed. She completed the 160 acre, two victim search in an hour and a half, Stern said.

     Kansas Search and Rescue Dog Association had two different teams from Kansas and Missouri certified at Fort Riley, Hensleigh said. Among those teams, there were seven dog teams. A dog team is a handler and a K-9, she said.

      The certification ended Nov. 5 with all K-9s completing the bi-annual international certification.