Case Studies

Case study - 2000 Manawatu (Finding a non-responder)
On a freezing cold night in Manawatu, an Alzheimer’s sufferer went missing in scattered scrub. She was wearing only a nightie. Many family members searched for her for some hours, but she wasn’t responding to their calls and they were unsuccessful.
A dog team was deployed at 4am. Because the area had been contaminated by family members, using the dog to track the lost party wasn’t an option. Instead, the dog was used for its air-scenting ability. There was a slight breeze blowing and, within 10 minutes, a large area had been covered and The woman was located within 300 metres of her house, alive and well but very cold.
Iain Watson, Police dog handler and search dog Cruise.

Case study - 2006 Nelson
Dog team called in to check last known point of an overdue Hunter, missing in dense bush. The dog picked up the Hunters track and followed it for 1.5 to 2 km. He was found alive and well.
Larry Charles and search dog Mishka.

Case study - 1997 Ruapehu
Buried alive.
An avalanche buried two climbers on Ruapehu and a survivor could do little with the equipment he had. His ankle was badly injured and he took some time to raise the alarm. Strong winds and darkness further delayed the search.
The next morning the search progressed slowly due to the survivor’s inability to identify the exact avalanche site. The search area was several hundred metres long with no obvious boundary because windblown snow had covered the avalanche debris. A probe team eventually found one victim 1.5 metres under the snow.
Two dog teams arrived and on the second morning, 40 hours after the avalanche event, they were deployed. One dog worked on the margin of the search area, some distance from where the first victim was found. Within 10 minutes he had found the second victim buried under two metres of snow.
Iain Watson, Police dog handler, 1997