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Search and Rescue needs a trained dog

Marquette County is getting another cliff, but not in the geological sense.

The Marquette County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved the purchase of a new search and rescue dog for the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office.

The new dog, to be named Cliff in honor of Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., will come from Von der haus Gill German Shepherds Inc. Funding for the K-9 will come from Cleveland-Cliffs, which will give $10,000. Also giving money are Walmart, which will chip in $1,000, and the Marquette Chapter of the Warthogs, a local police motorcycle group, which will donate $900.

Remaining costs, food, veterinary bills and other expenses for Cliff will be covered by funds from the rescue safety millage.

Cliff will replace the retiring Czar, who was involved in pure search and rescue. Cliff will be trained in search and rescue as well, and will act as a cadaver dog to look for bodies and scent.

Marquette County Sheriff Greg Zyburt said such a dog is a real asset for the search and rescue team, particularly with the size of Marquette County.

Zyburt said Cliff likely will be a Labrador retriever, considered a nonaggressive dog.

He said that over the years, the search and rescue dog has been used in public relations events such as parades and wellness fairs. It also has been taken to schools.

An aggressive dog, therefore, wouldn’t be a good choice.

Marquette County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Division Cpl. Errol Lukkarinen pointed out that the search and rescue team consists of volunteers, but it doesn’t matter if members have two legs or four.

The mission is to locate people and save lives.

While it might be a topic of debate as to whether dogs have a much better sense of smell than humans, these animals do have an incredible sense of smell. According to animalplanet.com, a dog’s sense of smell is its primary form of communication. So why not have a dog in a search and rescue operation?

What’s particularly great about having a new search and rescue K-9 is that donations will fund it. Even if taxpayer funds were the primary source of funding, it would be well worth it.

Dogs are invaluable members of people’s families, and they’re an important part of search and rescue operations as well.

We’re thrilled a special K-9 will replace the retiring Czar, which had been trained to track human scent through the woods and to pick up and follow scents from clothes.

We wish Cliff the best of luck too.

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