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Search and Rescue Seminar at Kent State Draws Rescue Dogs from Four States

Posted Mar. 31, 2014
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Rescue dog Bridgett is all smiles as she prepares to be
hoisted up the 35-foot rock wall at the Kent State University
Student Recreation and Wellness Center during a Search
and Rescue/Recovery Seminar that took place recently.

Kent State University recently held a Search and Rescue/Recovery Seminar to train search and rescue dogs. The weekend event that took place in January drew 12 dogs from four states, and they participated in a variety of training exercises.

Kathy Adamle, Ph.D., an assistant professor in Kent State’s College of Nursing, is part of a group of search and rescue personnel that trains search and rescue dogs in different states. Adamle was in charge of coordinating all the events for the dogs and their handlers during the weekend.

Adamle worked with the university to set up three separate training areas for the dogs: the Kent State Student Recreation and Wellness Center, the Kent State Airport and the “back 40” area behind University Facilities Management.

“Throughout the planning process, no one I ever spoke to told me ‘no,’” says Adamle. “Everyone I contacted was receptive and interested in letting us use their facilities. I definitely want to thank Gretchen Julian from the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, Dave Poluga from the Kent State Airport, and Tom Euclide from Facilities Planning and Operations.”

On Friday evening, the dogs and their handlers took part in the first training exercise of the seminar. The handlers went into the basement of the Student Recreation and Wellness Center underneath the pool, and took the dogs through two separate tunnels. One tunnel simulated “wind blasts,” while the other tunnel was physically smaller and very hot.

On Saturday, half the group went to the Kent State Airport while the other half returned to the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. The airport group tested the dogs’ tracking abilities through a stretch of wooded area, while the Student Recreation and Wellness Center group practiced lifting the dogs up the climbing wall.

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Jared Skaggs
, Outdoor Adventure program officer,
provides support during the Search and Rescue Training
Seminar at Kent State University.

Jared Skaggs, Outdoor Adventure program officer for the Department of Recreational Services, helped coordinate the event and took part in some of the training exercises at the Climbing Center. Skaggs was tasked with lifting the dogs in a harness up and down along the climbing wall.

“These dogs may be in a situation where they are lowered from a helicopter, so we wanted to train and familiarize them with what it would feel like so that their first time wouldn’t be during an actual live search,” says Skaggs. 

After lunch, both groups switched places and continued training. The weather was cold and rainy all day, which presented a unique opportunity for the dogs and their handlers.

“It was great for the dogs to train in inclement weather because people don’t only get lost when it’s 70 degrees and sunny,” says Adamle.

This was the first search and rescue event to be held at Kent State, and it went smoothly. Adamle is hopeful that this can be the start of a good relationship between the search and rescue group and the university.

“Kent State has been a great advocate for me for a long time,” says Adamle, who also brings pet therapy dogs from her Dogs on Campus Pet Therapy Program® to campus to visit students, faculty and staff.

For more information about the search and rescue group, contact Adamle at kadamle@kent.edu.