Danville Search and Rescue Dog Organization Striving for State Accreditation

Danville, VA - A non-profit group on the Southside is lending law enforcement a helping hand. ATT Search and Rescue has been in operation for four years, and trains dogs to find missing people and human remains.

The organization now plans to receive state certification.

Once the organization is certified, it can do search and rescue anywhere in Virginia.

ATT Search and Rescue spends several hours every week getting their dogs ready for the extensive exams ahead.

"It's a very worthy cause. There's nothing like finding a lost child, there's nothing like bringing closure to a family that's been missing for a long, long, long time," said dog trainer Garland Newton.

The non-profit has six dogs it currently trains to help law enforcement with search and rescue.

"A dog can replace some huge number of ground searchers. A dog can cover so much area quickly than that many people walking through the woods would," said Joanne Kuchinski, President of ATT Search and Rescue of Virginia.

In order to teach a dog how to find human remains, trainers get them acquainted to some particular scents Volunteers hide the items and the dog uses its sense of smell to find it.

It only took one of the dogs, Fargo, a couple of minutes for to find body fluid in the woods.

The same training applies for a missing person.

Garland Newton wiped himself with a used rag, and hid it in the woods. About a minute later, the dog found the rag.

"Dogs, they can learn very quickly, but the handler has to constantly watch their dog to see what their body language gives off. Their ears up or down are they on scent, or off scent, so you have to constantly keep watching them," said dog trainer Dorothy Fensterer.

"They're like our tool. The fireman has his axe, and the policeman has its gun, the dogs are our tools," Kuchinski said.

ATT Search and Rescue is in need of human and canine volunteers to help speed up the process of getting state certification.

If you're interested, you can contact the organization here. Or send an e-mail to: