DURANGO, Colo. (KRQE) – Purgatory Resort is celebrating their newest team member that they say will save lives. The eight-week-old puppy named Ember has joined Purgatory’s avalanche search and rescue team. The resort says time is of the essence as chances of survival in an avalanche burial drop after 15 minutes. In five or ten minutes, a trained avalanche dog can search an area the size of a football field. The same size field would take a human four hours to search.

Ember and her handler are following the Colorado Rapid Avalanche Department protocol for certifying rescue dog teams. Visitors can see Ember at Purgatory as she begins her basic obedience training which includes practicing drills like playing hide and seek and finding “victims” buried in snow caves and searches.

Colorado’s San Juan Mountains have complex avalanche terrain and snowpack conditions. Purgatory ski patrol manages several avalanches starting zones outside the eastern boundary of the resort.