LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – Red Rock Search and Rescue K-9 team member, ‘Recon’ is one of several dogs that goes above and beyond to bring people home and give families closure.
8 News Now learned more about his work here locally and how it changes lives.
“He loves it,” Mary Kay Grahn said of Recon’s work. “He loves it.”
Grahn works as the animal’s owner and handler. She said while we all know dogs are man’s best friend, this one takes that term to a whole new level. She is also captain of the K9 team at Red Rock Search and Rescue.
“They can do so much more than we can,” she said.
With help from Grahn, Recon uses his skills to sniff out missing people here in Southern Nevada.
“We have eyes, and we can look, but their noses,” she explained. “Their sense of finding that direction of a specific person no matter what is going on.”
The team gets to a spot where someone was last seen, equipped with what’s called a ‘scent’ article, like the victim’s hat or shirt. Then, a dog like Recon can use his nose to find them.
“To let the family know, ‘hey, here they are, or yeah, they got on this bus and they’re safe,” Grahn said. “‘And they’re in the air conditioning, and they will be home later tonight.”‘
In sadder situations, they also do ‘human remains’ searches to find someone who is believed to be dead.
While cases like this can be harder to swallow thanks to the program, they can also give a lot of people closure.
“I think we’re learning more and we’re trying more,” Grahn said of dogs like Recon. “So, we’re testing dogs and we’re letting them tell us, yeah, I got it, I can do that.”
In all, the program has about eight dogs in training, with 15 to 16 volunteer helpers also known as “flankers,” who keep an eye out for everyone’s surroundings.
“So, I’m totally watching him, I’m not watching for maybe the broken glass over here or the manhole cover that’s not on,” Grahn explained. “So, flankers are calling out, you know, glass on the left or loose dog. They’ll stop traffic if it’s a live search.”
This guarantees everyone will stay safe while managing parts of a moving puzzle that can literally mean life or death for some people.
“It’s a great tool,” Grahn said of the rescue dogs. “And it’s neat to see it all come together.”
However, for Recon, it’s all about the prize every time he and Grahn put paws to the pavement.
“It’s always a game,” she said. “And there’s always a reward at the end.”
She told 8 News Now the priceless help they provide is beyond rewarding to all.
“It still kind of blows me away when we do have a find, that we can do that,” Grahn concluded. “But it’s great.”
Grahn told 8 News Now one thing the team always needs is supplies for human remains training.
This could include extra blood from a draw appointment or bone or cartilage from surgery.
She said it’s all treated as a biohazard and disposed of safely.
For more information on donations and volunteer opportunities with Red Rock Search and Rescue, click HERE.