Search and rescue team prepares for busy season

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As temperatures warm up, hikers are getting out, and that means the Sandia Search and Rescue dogs are beginning to refresh their skills. The busy season is nearly here for the search and rescue team. Sixty degrees and sunny skies bring out more hikers, increasing the risk for someone to go missing.

“It’s often that people say well it’s a beautiful sixty-five, seventy-five-degree day here in Albuquerque I’m in my shorts and t-shirt, I think I’ll hike the La Luz trail,” said Mary Berry, President, and founder of the search team.

La Luz hides a little secret right after winter. “All that elevation gain and what they discover is there is two or three feet of snow,” said Berry.

The distance can be deceiving once you hit that snow too. While you might think you can make it, hikers could find themselves cold and hungry with a lot of miles between you and a warm spot to rest.

“They look up and they see those towers right and they think ‘oh it’s just right up there’ but it’s not,” said Berry. The search and rescue team gets around 20 calls per year, nearly half of which in the early spring. Over the years, the handlers have seen a lot of search cases.

“We searched for an individual, finding him right before nightfall he was fine he just didn’t have a map,” said volunteer handler, Mary Walker. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how much experience you have, never go out completely alone and bring plenty of water.

“Tell someone where you are going and when you are going to be back,” said Berry. While the rescue team loves what they do, they’d rather not have to pull you out of a tough spot because not every search ends on a good note.

“We’re used when they have no idea where the person is,” said Berry. The dogs use three different search methods. Find and bark, find an return to owner and the last method the dog uses the scent to take their handler to the missing person. The team can always use more volunteers and handlers, if you are interested in joining more information can be found at sandiaserachdogs.org.

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