Dogs from all over the country come to Utah for avalanche rescue training


    Dogs from across the country and some from around the world were gathered at Alta Ski Resort in Utah on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019 to learn how to perform avalanche rescues. (Photo: KUTV)

    For the skiers and snowboarders, it's about all about hitting the fresh powder, but up at Alta Ski Resort on Monday, some young pups were excited about the snow for a different reason.

    Dog teams from across the country, some even from Europe, were in Utah, training for avalanche rescues.

    “My dog Teela is a 10-month-old German Shepherd,” said Dan Skilling, a canine handler and paramedic from Big Sky, Montana. “All these different dog teams from all over the nation are coming together to learn some skills — tips, tricks and just better round ourselves as avalanches rescue handlers.”

    Dogs from across the country and some from around the world were gathered at Alta Ski Resort in Utah on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019 to learn how to perform avalanche rescues. (Photo: KUTV)

    “That's part of our training is challenging the handler and the dog to become better and faster,” said Tracy Christensen, president of Wasatch Backcountry Rescue.

    WBR has been training dogs and their handlers in Utah now for more than 40 years.

    “If that call should ever come, we want to be prepared and ready to go out to the back-country and help skiers in need,” said Christensen.

    Skilling said many of those in the back-country don't wear transceivers, so time is of the essence.

    Dogs from across the country and some from around the world were gathered at Alta Ski Resort in Utah on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019 to learn how to perform avalanche rescues. (Photo: KUTV)

    “When people get buried under the snow, these dogs can find people in a matter of minutes," skilling said. "She's a little fur-missile when you let her go and you let her search."

    Much of the training is done through games for the dogs that will help them should the time come for an avalanche rescue.

    “When they find somebody it's like a big party," Skilling said. "That's like the greatest thing they could ever do is find somebody under the snow."

    These skillful tools they are learning with their leaders have saved lives, Skilling says.

    Dogs from across the country and some from around the world were gathered at Alta Ski Resort in Utah on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019 to learn how to perform avalanche rescues. (Photo: KUTV)

    “It is a proven technique and the dogs do find people that are buried under the snow,” Skilling said.

    For more information on this program, you can click here.

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