MHA Nation adds search and rescue-certified K-9

Submitted Photo Dierks, a 15-month old bloodhound, and his handler, Emily Sitting Bear, are the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation’s first trailing-certified K-9 team.

NEW TOWN – The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation Emergency Operations Center’s Search & Rescue Division recently added a K-9 certified in search and rescue trailing.

Dierks is a 15-month-old male American Kennel Club bloodhound.

Emily Sitting Bear, center director, is Dierk’s handler and has been training with him during the past six months. Together they recently certified as a K-9 team in Boulder, Colorado.

K-9 Dierks and Sitting Bear join the current eight established K-9 teams of the MHA Nation. The other eight K-9 teams are part of tribal law enforcement, but Dierks and Sitting Bear are unique in being the first trailing-certified K-9 team, specifically for search and rescue.

K-9 Dierks and Sitting Bear will be available for other reservations and communities as well.

Bloodhounds are well-known for their keen sense of smell and tracking and trailing abilities and are often used in law enforcement and search and rescue operations. Their olfactory capabilities are significantly more refined than other dog breeds, making them exceptional at following trails over long distances and through challenging environments.Trailing involves a dog’s ability to identify and follow a specific person’s scent, no matter where it is. This capability is crucial in search and rescue operations, allowing K-9s to navigate through heavily contaminated scent areas to locate missing individuals.

Dierks, originally from Missouri, was raised and trained in Colorado by Search and Rescue Dogs of the United States (SARDUS) in Suburban and Wilderness Trailing. He has also received training from the National Search Dog Association and Georgia National K9 Training Center.

MHA Nation received Dierks as a donation from Anjie Julseth-Crosby, a SARDUS K-9 handler, who had been training him along with help from members of her family and many other SARDUS K-9 handlers over the past year.

Julseth-Crosby gave Dierks to MHA Nation to aid in the tribal nation’s responses to missing and abducted children and other missing endangered persons.

During this past year, Dierks has trained in Missouri, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas and Louisiana. Dierks has trailed in all types of environments -mountains, city, suburbs, forests, in swamps, along lakes, inside malls, large stores and schools. He has trailed in all weather conditions and all times of day, from early in the morning and into the night. While training, he’s found subjects of all ages and backgrounds.

Last month, Dierk’s and Sitting Bear’s best trail was more than 24-hours old and went through a suburban and busy city area with constant traffic, where they found the elderly subject more than a mile away.


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