Search Dog Heroes, the life-saving initiative developed by Missing People and Lowland Rescue, has reached a new milestone as the first two dogs have passed their qualifications to become seach dogs.
Michelle and Peggy, from Jersey, and Jo and Roo, from Berkshire, are the very first pairs to complete their training and be ready for deployment to help search for vulnerable missing people.
Peggy is owned and trained by dog handler, Lowland Rescue volunteer and Spaniel lover, Michelle Bouchard.
“Peggy is a small Springer with a cheeky character and the heart of a lion. Her determination and willingness to get the job done is unmeasurable. Peggy is a little bit shy, but the training gave her confidence, and she really took to it. It’s a real honour to be part of this, and we are hoping that it inspires many more people to get involved.”
Jo Armstrong and her dog Roo, based in Berkeshire, have also completed the training. Within the first 48 hours of being made operational, Jo and Roo were deployed and supported a successful search for someone thought to be missing from a care home.
To help people prepare for the devastating situation of a loved one going missing, scent capture kits have been developed and are now available to order. For people at greater risk of going missing, such as those living with dementia, learning disabilities or other medical conditions that put them at risk, families or carers can safely store their scent to ensure a search is launched quickly should a dog be available. Online resources provide guidance on how to keep loved ones and clients safe, as well as what to do if someone does go missing.
Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “I am delighted to see Dream Fund project ‘Search Dog Heroes’ officially launch. We are very excited to see the trained dogs working to bring people home thanks to the charities our players support, Missing People and Lowland Rescue. At People’s Postcode Lottery we aim to enable charities to come together and work collaboratively on fantastic projects like this. We hope that Search Dog Heroes will be an invaluable resource to help find missing vulnerable people, such as those living with dementia or a learning disability and bring peace of mind for their carers.”
Lowland Rescue Chairman, Gareth Pritchard – QPM, said: “We are really pleased that we now have two dogs trained and ready to go out into their communities and find vulnerable people. At Lowland Rescue
our specially- trained professional volunteers are regularly on the front line working alongside the police searching for people who have disappeared and this is a valuable extension to our search assets.
It has been fantastic to work with Missing People on this project which has the potential to help our teams save even more lives, and we are grateful to People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund who have made it all possible.”
Missing People CEO Jo Youle said: “With someone going missing in the UK every 90 seconds, and vulnerable people being particularly at risk, we are hoping that the launch of our scent kits and the training of our search dogs will make a real difference to people’s lives.
Thanks to the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery, carers of vulnerable people will be able to act fast if a loved one goes missing. Someone living with dementia is reported missing every five hours, and 1,800 disappear every year. Missing People and Lowland Rescue aim to use search dogs to save lives.”