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Canine units play important role in search-and-rescue

Trooper Joe Bozek says the work these dogs do is invaluable.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Two disaster certified search dogs from West Michigan were deployed to Florida this week to assist in the search for people in the building collapse. Local law enforcement, like the Michigan State Police, use these dogs nearly every day.

Search dog Dexter and his handler, Trooper Joe Bozek, travel all over the state.

"We covered about 1,300 miles in my patrol car from down in Niles to Sault St. Marie last week," says Bozek.

All because of Dexter's extraordinary nose.

"He does things that we can never do," says Bozek. "There's not technology, technology fails, it breaks down."

In cases like the building collapse in Florida, they can find people deep below the rubble.

"And we're talking down to the minute," explains Bozek. "I mean a single drop of blood is the threshold he's trained to."

And depending on the situation, a dog may be trained to search for different things. One could be for a living person, another for recovering bodies. Dexter is trained to find human remains, while Bozek's other dog is trained for living people.

Once the dogs track down what they're looking for, they'll give a command back to their handler to let them know.

"Dexter will give us a sit," says Bozek. "And he doesn't get rewarded if he leaves there."

Bozek says the work that no one else can do is invaluable.

"We have one success and you see a family finally be able to start the grieving process when a loved one's recovered, that's worth it," he says. "I don't know how you put a price tag on that."

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