Huddersfield search and rescue duo make their first big find

AFTER almost three years of waiting, mountain rescuer Wayne Thackray and his search dog Dodge have finally had their first ‘find’.
Wayne, of Crosland Moor, and three-year-old Dodge helped Edale Mountain Rescue Team to find a missing man in the Sheffield area.
Sadly, the 68-year-old was not alive when he was found.
Wayne said: “It was our first find, but not such a happy occasion.
“I was hoping the first find would be someone alive and well.
“Situations like this are one of the sadder parts of what we do, but at the end of the day, it does bring closure for families.”
Wayne, 41, is one of 30 search and rescue dog handlers in England and can be called out to any place across the country to help with searches.
He is on 24-hour call with Dodge, who he began training in 2006.
Wayne and Dodge officially started work as a search and rescue team last October – after two years of tough training.
Since then they have been involved in many searches, including the hunt for missing York woman Claudia Lawrence.
Wayne said making their first find was a big moment.
“It’s what every dog handler works towards,’’ he said.
“It means you know you have a proven dog who can do the job.
“It is also a case of being in the right place at the right time as well as having the right dog – and all the training pays off.”
Search dogs like Dodge do not just find missing people.
They are invaluable tools for scanning large areas for evidence and can do the search work of many police officers simply by tracking scent.
Wayne said: “They are trained to find live casualties, but they can also find things quickly that would take police officers a long time to do on a fingertip search.
“It’s just another example of the dog’s versatility.”
Search missions aside, Wayne and Dodge’s next big challenge is to upgrade to the next level of search and rescue qualification.
A search dog typically only works until the age of 10 and, with it taking several years to reach grading, Wayne plans to begin training a new search dog, alongside working with Dodge, within the next few years.
Dodge was Wayne’s first search and rescue dog, although he has been a member of Hepworth-based Woodhead Mountain Rescue Team for eight years.
Wayne and his MRT colleagues all do their life-saving work on a voluntary basis and are in constant need of funds and members to continue their work.
The Woodhead team is currently particularly short-staffed after the departure of some team members.
Wayne averages around two search jobs a week, on top of his normal job as a freelance first aid adviser.
Wayne said: “People leave, their circumstances change. But we’re very depleted right now, so we’d really like to hear from anyone who would consider becoming a new member.”
Visit www.woodheadmrt.org for more details about mountain rescue and how to get involved.

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