Second-year students participating in the Owensboro Community Technical College’s veterinary technology program were joined by members of the Daviess County Search and Rescue Team for some collaborative canine education Thursday.
Jacqueline Jackson, OCTC associate professor, veterinary technology, said that it was the first time search and rescue handlers and their canine companions participated in the educational program, which was held at the school’s 1501 Frederica St. campus.
“I think anything that we can do to involve the community and students learning about things that are animal related to the community will benefit them and will also benefit this team,” Jackson said.
A group of about a half-dozen students participated in demonstrations with the search and rescue dogs, learning about their role in the community. One demonstration involved a student hiding and seeing if one of the dogs could locate them.
Jim Huff, Daviess County Search and Rescue team leader, brought his 3-year old German Shepard, Jo, to participate in the collaboration.
“I believe that the students need to know how a “working dog” works,” he said.
Huff said he spoke to the students about how a dog uses its scent receptors to locate missing people.
“Skin cells are falling off of us at a rate of about 40,000 skin cells a minute, and that is how our dogs work, off of skin cells,” Huff said. They are scent specific, so if I go and search for somebody I have to have a scent article from that person, so I can find that person.”
Huff said there could be 500 people around and his dog will stay focused on searching for the specific scent of the missing person.
The Daviess County Search and Rescue Team is a certified team that provides search and rescue services in Daviess County and western Kentucky. The team is currently made up of 10 canine handlers, 13 dogs and a total of 29 volunteers.
Jackson said she first wanted to bring in members of the search and rescue team to speak with veterinary technology students before the COVID-19 pandemic, but was finally able to do so Thursday.
“I feel like there are a lot of things that we can teach them and they can teach us,” she said.
After the canine demonstrations, students presented research on topics ranging from basic first aid in the field to how to conduct CPR and handle a serious laceration or impalement — things that could be necessary to know for handlers.
Second-year veterinary technology student Whitney Reese spoke about providing CPR to a dog if it becomes necessary.
“If they are not breathing, start doing your rescue breaths and it is one rescue breath every second; (it’s) what they normally are asking for now,” Reese said. “You are going to hold the dog’s mouth closed and put your mouth over their nose and blow in it and watch for that breath.”
Reese said only about 6% of cats and dogs that suffer a cardiac event come home from the hospital, and organizations are currently working to raise awareness and ideally bring that number up.
Jackson said she would like to continue the partnership between the OCTC veterinary technology program and the canine handlers in the semesters and years to come.
Nathan Havenner, Messenger-Inquirer, firstname.lastname@example.org, 270-228-2837