Search dog handlers from Iowa and all over California traveled to San Diego for a special training.
The teams were taking part on a half a mile walk Wednesday. It’s something the San Diego County Sheriff's SAR K‐9 Unit does twice a week.
The training is part of a course offered at a special training center located in Santee.
Dog and handler teams aiming to help search for missing or injured people need to attend training for a year and a half before they can even test to be certified.
"So it takes a long time, it takes a lot of work and a lot of effort," said search and rescue team member Tom Bennet.
On this day of training, it was obvious that when the dog’s harness is put on along with the leash, it's time for work.
"A dog will go in and see if there's movement, human movement or human smell," said Search and Rescue Coordinator Sgt. Don Parker
The trainers use what they call positive reinforcement training. If a dog finds someone, they get food or play time.
The dogs' work is two-fold. The teams work to find those alive and bring them home. If the missing person is deceased, locating the body brings closure to families.
“And that’s just as important in many ways," said trainer Cathy Metts.
The teams from Riverside County, Murrieta and Polk County, Iowa attended Wednesday’s training session to observe exercises like scenting from a car seat and finding the direction a
person has traveled.
They are visiting to learn how to establish search and rescue volunteer units similar to the one used by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.