K-9 rescue pairs punch their ticket

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October 27, 2015 8:15 AM

Trooper is trooper. So are Scamp, Belle and Finley.

These are four Lloydminster area search and rescue dogs with handlers who recently passed international certification tests for people rescue operations in Canada and the world.

The handlers and their K-9 partners are volunteer members of the Canadian Search & Disaster Dogs Association based in Edmonton where the testing was done by an international judge from Sept. 18-20.

“We don’t do our own certification. It’s done by the International Rescue Dog Organization,” said Richard Lee president of CASDDA.

“That IRO certification is required for international dispatch under the United Nations in a major disaster worldwide.”

Only Jean Wobeser and her K-9 partner Scamp and Teresa Thorpe and her K-9 buddy Belle earned their complete international certification.

Thorpe passed the international certification in rubble search for major worldwide disasters with her yellow lab Belle.

“I am thrilled and I am sure my dog is is happy too. She does love working on the rubble. Having passed the ruble search means we can respond to international disasters,” said Thorpe.

She and Wobeser passed all of the search and obedience and dexterity components.

“For international dispatch you do need to pass all the international components,” explained Lee.

The testing involved 27 teams including five from lLoydminster and two of them happen to pass,” said Lee.

“It is a very difficult exam. The pass rate worldwide is any where from 10 to 15 per cent for international tests and we managed to pass almost 30 per cent.”

See “K-9,” Page 12

Trooper and her handler Stacy Thornton passed the international search component of the international certificate in rubble search.

“The search component is the major one. That really is the core of what search dogs do,” said Lee.

“The four Lloydminster teams did complete that task which was to find missing people. They are all certified to dispatch for local searches.

Jeanne Franson and her K-9 partner Finley passed the international search component.

A fifth rescue dog team from Lloydminster failed the tests but they can try again next year.

The Thornton and Trooper team is one of eight search and rescue dog teams in Lloydminster that train at least twice a week for three to four hours at a time.

Trooper is now qualified to be dispatched locally and nationally to locate survivors lost in the wilderness.

Trooper is a lab cross that Thornton more or less adopted when he was just two days old. He’ll be three at the end of the month.

“He’s a rescue himself and I bottle fed him and raised him all the way up from a rescue that I was fostering for,” she said.

Thornton joined CASDDA as a volunteer a year ago last April after attending a seminar and she takes Trooper with her for weekly training outings with other Lloydminster members.

“We kind of train all over the place from friends and families that have acreages with treed areas,” said Thornton.

“We’ve trained at local businesses; we’ve used their yards and buildings.”

No rescue dog from Lloydminster has yet to called upon to search for people but Thornton said the training is worth it now that Trooper is qualified for rubble and wilderness searches.

“t’s a lot of work. It takes a lot of time and dedication. I am looking forward helping out if we are ever needed,” she said.

As for Trooper Thornton said, “He’s kind of happy. He gets to go to work. He enjoys his job. It’s all a game to him.”

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