Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office gets ​new partners in Kansas Search and Rescue

Local News

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — When it comes to finding people who have gone missing, time is of the essence.

That’s why the volunteers with organization Kansas Search and Rescue and their highly trained search dogs will be teaming up with the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office to help them find the answers and bring people home safe.

Two of those search and rescue dogs are named Sir and Laudie.

Their handlers Lisa Smith and LeeAnn Tufte work with them to develop the skills needed to assist law enforcement in their searches.

“We start with short little runaways with friends and family and the dogs just learn that following a trail and finding somebody at the end is a lot of fun,” said Smith. “It’s a game to them.”

The dogs learn how to find a live person, identify a missing person’s trail and find human remains.

“You just keep advancing that training,” said Tufte. “They can usually work up to six to eight years.”

Lisa and LeeAnn do all the training on their own time and offer their services to law enforcement for free.

Shawnee County Sheriff Brian Hill said after seeing one of their presentations, he thought it would be something his deputies could put to good use.

“I’ve noticed here of recent, in Shawnee county and Topeka both, we’ve had a lot of walk-aways from nursing homes,” said Hill. “We had the typical runaways and kids missing, things like that.”

Sir and Laudie have a slightly different skill set than dogs currently used by law enforcement.

“The search and rescue dogs have the capability of being scent specific,” said Hill. “So, that dog once it gets on that trail, it doesn’t matter who crosses it, it will stay on that trail.” 

Hill said that can be a tremendous help for them.

“The availability of them to come out with their trained canines and run those scent specific trails can honestly be the difference in life or death,” said Hill.

Lisa and LeeAnn started Kansas Search and Rescue to be a helpful resource for law enforcement agencies. They said they want to continue to get the word out about their program and work with even more agencies in the future.

For more information about Kansas Search and Rescue, click HERE.

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