Hero K9s help find missing Chester County, Pa. man

"We had put our first dog out at 6 o'clock, and by 8 o'clock, we had located the subject," said Craig Snyder.
WEST CHESTER, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A hero K9 group helped save a missing man last week who had experienced a medical emergency while in the Chester County woods.

One of the pups responsible for the rescue is Gauge, a two-and-a-half-year-old black lab that's part of ChesCo Search Dogs. The all-volunteer group trains their dogs in search and rescue.

Gauge helped locate the missing man in the Gordon Natural Area.

"We had put our first dog out at 6 o'clock, and by 8 o'clock we had located the subject," said Craig Snyder, who leads the ChesCo Search Dogs. "Everyone that's on their team has one main trait, and that is they love their dogs."

There are two types of searchers, trailing dogs, that pick up on articles of clothing, and dogs that pick up on air scent.

"As you're walking, you're leaving behind scent. As you're stopped, you're leaving behind more scent and they're just sniffing the air trying to catch a whiff of a person," explained Snyder.

The training starts with drills where one subject goes across a field with a treat.

The owner puts a bell on the dog so that it knows that it's working and then yells, "search!"

The dog learns to run back and forth between the subject and owner to guide them to the person. When the task is complete, the dog gets a treat and lots of love.

It takes hundreds of hours to perfect these skills. It's work that Gauge and the other pups had already put in before finding the missing man.

"Most of these dogs are hunting or working dogs and they're made to be in that kind of environment," said Snyder.

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