Missouri Task Force 1 to get two new rescue dogs

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BOONE COUNTY - Missouri Task Force 1 is getting two new life-find search and rescue dogs.

The Missouri State Society Daughters of the American Revolution donated $8,000 to help purchase the dogs. 

"Every year the Missouri Daughters get together and sponsor what we call lights of love. Daughters donate either in memory of or in honor of a military veteran, or an active duty military, or a first responder, and this year we decided to focus on our first responders," said the Missouri State Society Daughters of the American Revolution state regent, Cindy Suich.  

The assistant chief of Boone County Fire District Gale Blomenkamp said the last life-find search and rescue dog Missouri Task Force 1 purchased was around $4,500, so this donation gets them right around their goal of two dogs. He said the timing of when the task force will get the new dogs is still up in the air. 

"Depending on the age of the dog, it's really a timing thing," he said. "It could be close to two years before we would see the money from this donation come to full fruition and to have two dogs in service that are deployable."  

Suich said the organization has family ties to the task force, but it didn't know until the sponsorship was already decided. 

"We were trying to do something different this year," she said. "This year we really wanted to focus on first responders and Task Force 1 reaches everyone. We did not know until we sponsored this 'Oh my daughter's a member, oh my son is a member." 

Missouri Task Force 1 has been all around the country helping against natural disasters. The task force helped keep people safe during Hurricane Michael in Florida, Hurricane Florence in North Carolina and Hurricane Lane in Hawaii with the help of 8 search and rescue dogs. 

Blomenkamp said the task force takes four life-find search and rescue dogs on any type one deployment. 

"We're double what we need for deployment, but we're allotted 12, and so this donation from this group is going to be a wonderful asset for us to go out and approach purchasing two more dogs," Blomenkamp said. 

He said the search and rescue dogs help them do things in the field that humans can't, which saves the task force a lot of time and effort. 

"They can be in an area that may not be safe for a person to be in. They can locate people under rubble in tubes that we can't see, that's where it allows our groups to go in there and start digging in that area," Blomenkamp said. 

He said the task force has the option of buying a puppy to train over time or a fully trained FSA certified dog. Blomenkamp said it will still take some time before the dogs are ready for deployment. 

"We would look at probably doing an FSA certified dog and then once we got that dog its about another year after that before it would be absolutely deployable and ready to go," he said. 

Blomenkamp said the task force was surprised by the donation and is very grateful. 

"We want them to understand how grateful we are. They did not have to do that for us, we are funded through FEMA, but to recognize the work that these men and women do, that these canine handlers do and the canines themselves do is pretty special for us," he said. "We just want to say thank you."