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K-9 Emergency Response Teams ready to help bring people home

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 8:03 PM CST
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NORTHWEST WISCONSIN (WEAU) - Providing a highly trained team to help bring people home. That’s the goal of K-9 Emergency Response Teams out of northwest and central Wisconsin.

Jan Thompson of Cumberland joined her first K-9 search and rescue team more than 20 years ago. It all started with something she saw on TV.

“When I was a young mother with children at home, I was watching the news documentary and there was a woman in Mexico City after the earthquake and she was working her shepherd to the rubble. I was just awe struck,” she said.

Currently with her fourth K-9 partner, Thompson is part of K-9 Emergency Response Teams. KERT is a volunteer-based organization. The handlers and K-9s have national certification for search and rescue with different areas of expertise.

“We respond to law enforcement call outs for missing people. We do respond to family, only when we have law enforcement blessing,” said Thompson.

At the scene, handlers and their K-9s are assigned an area from the search manager.

“It’s up to the handler to determine the best way to search that area, putting their dog’s nose at the best advantage, according to terrain and wind,” said Jan Thompson.

In 2020, Thompson says KERT was called to more than 20 searches.

“Whenever there’s a call out for somebody presumed alive, you want as many resources as possible searching for that person,” she said.

According to the organization, many of its handlers have more than 10 years of experience and have responded to hundreds of missing person searches.

“We’re happy to respond and be called off. That’s the best search ever is to say we need, you somebody’s missing and we’re enroute, and we get that call, stand down, the subject’s been located,” she said.

K-9 Emergency Response Teams currently has around 12 handlers in two divisions, ready to help bring people home. KERT does not charge law enforcement agencies for its services, it relies on donations for its operations. Click here to go to the KERT website.

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