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Dogs trained to find avalanche victims

2:58 PM, Jan 16, 2012   |    comments
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Ski patrols help keep everyone safe, and one of the most important safety assets they have are rescue dogs, trained to find people buried by avalanches.

These are the new-and-improved avalanche rescue dogs, no offense to the Saint Bernard's. They're small and agile, small enough to fly in a helicopter with their handler and head out quickly for a rescue and recovery situation.

The Breckenridge program is the largest in Colorado. They have six certified canines and more in training ready for rescues at this resort or anywhere else in the state. They don't have to be purebred, but they do require certain attributes.

"You want the dog to be curious about what's going on around it, is confident in itself and what it can do, and then you want a strong fetch drive or playing drive in a dog. Because avalanche rescue for the dog is all a game," Hunter Mortensen with ski patrol said.

The game starts out by having the dogs find and dig out their favorite toys, which of course also have the human scent. Once they're adept at that, the toys are buried along with human subjects.

This prestigious group of dogs and their handlers are trained to respond quickly to emergencies and save lives.


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