Rescue dogs overwhelmed by scale of Oso mudslide search

Mar 27, 2014, 1:06 PM | Updated: 2:40 pm

The massive scale of the Oso mudslide rescue and recovery effort is taking its toll on the dozens of search dogs working through the disaster area.

Officials say the dogs are getting exhausted by the scope of the search, and there are unconfirmed reports some dogs have detected so many bodies they are resisting searching any further.

Snohomish County District 21 Fire Chief Travis Hots says dogs remain one of the most effective tools in the search, but the massive debris field is posing a unique challenge.

“Sometimes that scent doesn’t come straight up where that person might be trapped. Most of the time that scent takes the path of least resistance and so that scent might come up 30, 40, 50 feet away from where they’re really at.”

Lisa Bishop with Northwest Disaster Search dogs spent all of Wednesday with her Border Collie, Cody, in the field.

“He’s very tired. He did almost fall asleep out there a couple of times when we took a break,” Bishop says.

Bishop acknowledges the scene is overwhelming and the odds of a miracle are slim.

“I always hope I find somebody alive and I always have that expectation that we’re going to, partially because my dog feels my emotions.”

The work is painstaking. Once a dog indicates it smells something, searchers begin probing the area and observing the dog to help further pinpoint a possible location. Then a second dog is brought in to help further refine the search. If that dog responds similarly, crews then begin digging with shovels or by hand.

Each discovery is a painful one, Bishop says, especially since many of those in the field are volunteers who know so many of those likely lost.

“That was actually the most heartbreaking part for me, that actually did bring tears to my eyes when I was out searching in the field today, to see people out there looking for their loved ones.”

Local News

Seattle mayoral candidates Bruce Harrell and Lorena Gonzalez. (Ted Warren / AP News)...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Mayoral candidates debate, share vision for future of SPD

A Sunday debate hosted by the Washington State ACLU focused on public safety, with the main topic centered around the future of SPD.
6 hours ago
crime, shooting...
Associated Press

Clark County deputies shoot, kill suspect after pursuit

Authorities say police shot and killed an assault suspect after a pursuit near Vancouver in southwest Washington.
1 day ago
rapid covid test...
MyNorthwest Staff

UW doctor: When to use a PCR versus rapid antigen test for COVID-19

Dr. Geoff Baird with UW Medicine has a simple formula for weighing the two main COVID test types: PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and rapid antigen.
1 day ago
USS John McCain...
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

Naval Station Everett welcomes USS John S. McCain

The USS John S. McCain is now docked at its new homeport, Naval Station Everett.
1 day ago
Gov. Jay Inslee, Idaho...
Stephanie Klein

What to know now that Oct. 18 deadline for vaccine mandate has arrived

The deadline for state workers, including educators, and healthcare workers to show their employers proof that they're vaccinated against COVID-19 is Monday, Oct. 18.
1 day ago
medina...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Police: Two in custody after hit-and-run suspect rams patrol car; officer fires shots

Two people were taken into custody after a driver suspected of a hit-and-run rammed an officer’s patrol vehicle, resulting in the officer firing shots at the car Saturday night in Medina.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
...
Comcast

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Rescue dogs overwhelmed by scale of Oso mudslide search