K9 handler Mary Cablk and her dog Inca volunteer for about 30 search and rescue missions a year.
“We come together when someone is in need and a family is in need. That’s what we train for and that’s why we are all out here and have been out here since Sunday,” says Cablk.
"Here" is Silver Lake in Stead, where 17-year-old Sunni Decarrillo disappeared March 17, 2019 after going kayaking; the kayak and a paddle have been found, but no other sign of him has.
It may seem odd to have dogs involved in search missions dealing with water, but Cablk says they can be very helpful.
“They work based on the scent that is carried on the wind across the water. So when we put them on the bow of the boat and scent comes across the bow, they actually can smell that,” says Cablk.
Cablk adds a dog can smell targets that are one thousand feet deep. She says last summer dogs were successful in finding a victim in Lake Tahoe at about eleven hundred feet deep.
“They turn in the direction that scent the is coming from and it allows to go right to where its origin is,” says Cablk.
With Inca’s help, Cablk says, the Sliver Lake search and rescue team has been given some information that is being followed up on. But she says dogs aren’t like humans. They can only work a couple hours at a time.
“Sniffing is actually pretty intense. It’s processing that’s done in their brains. So, we can push ourselves for all day long and the dogs have a more limited work time that they can put it,” says Cablk.
Even with all of the duo’s experience, Cablk says this mission is different than all the rest.
“This is one of the hardest water searches, one of the hardest efforts that I’ve ever worked involving a lake,” says Cablk.
Almost a week with no answers has been challenging for all the volunteers.
“Our primary thought is the loved ones, we don’t want to give up for them, the question is where can we go next,” says Bob Harmon with the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office.
Whatever the next step is, Inca will be ready to help lead the way.