Demonstration Feb. 23 to Feature Missouri Task Force 1 Search Dog Team

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

Feb. 11, 2005 – Demonstrations by the Missouri Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue search dog team will be featured during Criminal Justice and Sociology Day activities Feb. 23 at Southeast Missouri State University.

Missouri Task Force 1, based out of Columbia, Mo., was designated as a federal task force by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 1997. Urban search and rescue task forces locate, rescue and treat victims in collapsed buildings. The Missouri Task Force is deployed throughout the state by the State of Missouri Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), as well as nationally by FEMA, to any type of disaster, including Sept. 11 and the Columbia Shuttle disaster. All personnel on the task force are volunteers.

“We’re always looking to show something different during our demonstrations,” said Dr. John Wade, chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology. “The task force dogs are unique because they are more versatile than police-trained drug dogs since they are used in rescue operations. We’re very fortunate that the task force is willing to come,” he added.

The demonstrations will include showing the dogs’ agility with a series of obstacles, their ability to follow verbal commands, and their ability to conduct searches for disaster victims. The search demonstration will show how the dogs can single out their target, differentiate that person from others and locate them, even when hidden.

The demonstration is open to the public and will be held at 10 a.m. on the University’s Academic Terraces.

Chris Venable, a Southeast graduate assistant in the Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology, and wife Erin are Missouri Task Force 1 volunteers. The Venables own and train one of the task force search dogs.

“The demonstration will be really interesting,” Venable said. “If we ever had a major disaster in our area, this team would be one of the first deployed.”

“A lot of people don’t realize we have this task force,” added Wade. “It will be good for the community to know it exists and know its capabilities. The task force’s versatility is unlimited; they’re a real asset,” he said.