Avalanche rescue dogs ready in case of mountain emergency
Our area is equipped with four-legged rescuers who are always training and ready in case of an emergency on the mountains. The dogs begin training for the job as young as eight weeks old. They are taught to find human scent.
"When we're first teaching a puppy that game, we'll first use the handler and their scent because we know the dog will work for their person," Chase Allstadt, the Avalanche Search Dog Coordinator at Alpine Meadows, said. "They've got a bond and once that's been established we will start to involve other people and their scents so we know the dog understands I'm not just looking for my person's scent but any scent under the snow, any human scent."
When the dogs are training and working, they think it's just a game but in all reality it could save someone's life.
"After we've searched an avalanche with conventional methods, a visual search, a transceiver search, then we bring in the dogs to confirm that there actually isn't anyone involved," he said.
Allstadt said avalanches in bounds are very rare but they did use the dogs for an avalanche during the 2018-2019 ski season.
"It's a huge time and resource savings for us as opposed to getting people out there to probe the dogs just do it so much quicker and effectively," he said.