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Snake River Search dogs learn water rescue techniques

By Stephanie Hale-Lopez
Published On: Jun 08 2013 07:59:15 PM CDT

Year after year, canines from Snake River Search help rescue dozens of outdoor enthusiasts in Idaho's backyard.

SWAN VALLEY, Idaho -

Idaho ranks fourth in the nation in drowning deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With many opportunities to enjoy the summer weather out on the water, the Snake River Search team is training some of its new canine members. 

Nobody likes a wet dog, but many would have to make an exception for these guys. 

Year after year, canines from Snake River Search help rescue dozens of outdoor enthusiasts in Idaho's backyard. 

They range in age, breed, and experience level but they all have one thing in common. 

"What we do is we look for working dogs that have a real drive to do work and please humans and come out and do what we ask them to," said David Ferguson, dog handler. 

The dogs receive constant training, but Saturday's drills focused on searching for people who drowned.

"There's scent that's being pumped into the water and the dog will come up to the odor source," said David Forker, dog handler. "Then we train for an alert so the dog can tell the handler where exactly the scent is at." 

From there, it's repetition. 

After a couple of passes on the boat, the dogs were able to identify the scent. 

"They already understand odor and how to work on land," said Lisa Higgins, a dog trainer. "Then it's simply teaching them that people hide in the water too...it's just a game to them, they have no idea the magnitude that we're asking them to do."

Snake River Search is a privately-owned and maintained rescue group. 

Workers volunteer their time and even their resources to rescue those in need.

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