Search dogs are poised to track down vulnerable missing people and bring them home as part of a ground-breaking joint project by charities Missing People and Lowland Rescue, Search Dog Heroes, which was funded through the People’s Postcode Lottery.
With reports of a person with dementia going missing every five hours in the UK, and are at high risk of harm once they do; specially-trained dogs will help find them as quickly as possible. The project is being rolled out across England, the Channel Islands and Northern Ireland.
Missing People CEO Jo Youle said, “With someone going missing in the UK every 90 seconds, and vulnerable people being particularly at risk, we are hoping that the launch of our scent kits and the training of our search dogs will make a real difference to people’s lives. Thanks to the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery, carers of vulnerable people will be able to act fast if a loved one goes missing.
“Someone living with dementia is reported missing every five hours, and 1,800 disappear every year. Missing People and Lowland Rescue aim to use search dogs to save lives.”
The first dogs search dogs have entered into service in Berkshire and Jersey this week, with more coming online and rolling out across the wider country in the coming months. Once the dogs and handlers are qualified, the police can use them as part of the search for a vulnerable missing person.
Dog handler and Lowland Rescue volunteer Michelle Bouchard (main image), whose dog Peggy is one of two dogs who have completed the training, said, “Peggy is a little bit shy, but the training gave her confidence, and she really took to it.
“It’s a real honour to be part of this, and we are hoping that it inspires many more people to get involved.”
Jo Armstrong and her dog Roo have also completed the training, and took part to a search within 48 hours of being made operational. Roo supported a successful search for someone thought to be missing from a care home.
Lowland Rescue Chairman, Gareth Pritchard – QPM, said, “We are really pleased that we now have two dogs trained and ready to go out into their communities and find vulnerable people. At Lowland Rescue our specially-trained professional volunteers are regularly on the front line working alongside the police searching for people who have disappeared and this is a valuable extension to our search assets.
“It has been fantastic to work with Missing People on this project which has the potential to help our teams save even more lives, and we are grateful to People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund who have made it all possible.”
Missing People and Lowland Rescue have developed scent kits, which allow the carers or relatives of vulnerable people to collect the scent of the person and store it securely. The trailing search dogs, trained by Lowland Rescue, can use the scent to track down the missing person quickly, to reduce the risk of them coming to harm.
Images by Search Dog Heroes