SANDOVAL COUNTY, N.M. – Sandoval County’s critical search and rescue dog team has created a Go Fund Me account to offset being severely underfunded.
Sandoval County covers more than 3,700 square miles, yet less than 20 percent is actual County land. The rest is Tribal, Federal, and Forest land, which makes locating missing persons in the area difficult and complicated.
As a result, the county has implemented their first-ever search and rescue dogs, which have already improved search efforts.
“The dogs can cover a lot larger area, are faster, and more efficient. Dogs range anywhere from 100 to 500 yards out in front of us, side to side. That’s more coverage than could be achieved by a dozen people walking together, trying to cover an area in a grid search,” said David Farrell.
But all of that that comes at a price. So far, everything has been paid for by the husband-wife volunteer duo, who after two years are finally turning to the community for help.
“It’s all been out of our pockets. I’m a volunteer for the county and for the team so I put my time and all my money into my dogs and their training equipment and certifications. We’ve looked for grants and applied for that sort of thing (to no avail),” said Farrell.
A Go Fund Me page has been set up in hopes of getting help from the community until more funding comes in from the county.
The search and rescue dogs are part of the Rio Grande Basin Heavy Technical Rescue Team, which is itself a fairly new organization made up of Rio Rancho, Sandoval County and Corrales firefighters.
Sandoval County Deputy Fire Chief Eric Masterson says the team’s calls involve search and rescues in the Sandias or Jemez mountains, as well as water-related emergencies along the Bosque.
Officials say the dogs’ work is more crucial now than ever. “The call volume has gone up for the RGBHTRT. Last year we had approximately 30 to 40 calls,” said Masterson,”The numbers are expected to go up this year as more and more people use the recreational facilities in those areas.”
The increase in calls means more daily training and annual certifications for the dogs, all of which are being paid for by the volunteering duo, who also recently adopted a third rescue dog. They are hoping to use money from the Go Fund Me account to train the new puppy so he can relieve KT or Quattro when they retire.
To make a donation, or for more information, visit their website.