The Pine Creek K-9 Search Unit visits Reynoldsville by Peggy Zortman

(L-R): K-9 Handler Emily Keister with K-9 Ruger (Doberman), K-9 Handler Adam Moore with K-9 Benji (Australian Shepherd), K-9 Handler Nathan Musser with K-9 Flynn (Bloodhound) and K-9 Handler Shaun Eggleton with K-9 Elsa (German Shepherd)

There were “Paws on the Ground” in Reynoldsville on the last day of February.

The Pine Creek K-9 Search Unit team made up of Adam, Emily, Leslie, Millie, Nathan, Shaun, their dogs, and two tiny handlers-to-be (Children of Leslie and Adam) gathered near the Harry Kunselman Park in Reynoldsville for training exercises.

This non-profit, all volunteer search dog group came together in 2016. With the assistance of the Pine Creek Volunteer Fire Department, a group of like-minded dog owners formed a search dog group.

We respond to Emergency calls and work closely with fire departments, police departments and many other emergency service organizations,” said Public Relations Director Lindsey Moore.

This local group currently has twenty-three members with five of them under the age of eighteen. Adam Moore is the Chief and Nathan Musser the Deputy Chief. They currently have members from Jefferson, Clarion, Clearfield, Elk, and Forest counties.

In Pennsylvania, dogs and handlers need not be certified, but this group has chosen the high road as both handlers and dogs are certified through International Bloodhound Training Institute (INBTI). Each dog is trained by his or her handler. Handlers are also responsible for purchasing all necessary equipment and providing their own transportation. Each spring a training seminar takes place to be sure the dogs are being trained properly. Certification evaluations are completed in the fall. The team trains twice a week in various locations as well.

Members of the team have worked in all the surrounding counties, but thanks to the extra certification they will travel nationwide if requested, pending member availability as most of them work.

The teamwork of handler and dog is beautiful. It’s obvious the dogs enjoy what they do. One gentleman said his dog would be “spastic” if not for his constant training exercises and the very real work of finding people. When asked why they do this, the unanimous answer was, “We’re helping people.”

According to Ms. Moore, “We do public relations events and have given presentations to elementary school aged children about the Hug-A-Tree Program.” That program teaches children how to survive in the woods if they become lost. The group has also also worked with Camp Friendship and cub scout troops.

To know more about and/or help this all-volunteer group, go to their social media locations.

We could really use some social members at this point, but our doors are open to everybody. We have a Facebook account as well as Instagram. Just search Pine Creek K-9 Search Unit,” said Ms. Moore.

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