Dogs led hunt for victims of the floods

26 August 2004
Cornish Guardian

An air exclusion zone was set up over Boscastle to ensure that search and rescue dogs would not be distracted as they scoured the area for victims of the floods.

Dogs from Wales and a pair of dogs from South Yorkshire, together with their handlers, were brought in last Wednesday.

Border collie Frankie and springer spaniel Eddie work with PCs John Ellis and Martin Grime as part of the Victim Search team.

The dogs are the only two in Britain capable of locating human blood and body fluids in small quantities. They are trained to seek buried remains and target disturbed areas of broken branches, rubble or turned over earth.

The dogs worked their way through the devastation at Boscastle as emergency and rescue services made sure that no one had been lost in the flash floods.

The team is part of the specialist search unit operated by the National Crime and Operations Faculty and receives at least one request a week from forces at home and abroad.

During the last 12 months the dogs and their handlers have assisted 17 forces at a charge of £950 a day.

In 2001 the dogs helped recover the body of Shane Collier in the Yorkshire Dales, enabling Barnsley officers to gain a murder conviction, while at the end of last year the FBI sought their help in a ten-year-old murder inquiry in the United States.

Closer to home the dogs have worked in Northern Ireland, while in North Devon they helped to search for the missing Ilfracombe teenager Charlotte Pinkney.

Handler John Ellis said: "South Yorkshire Police is very fortunate to have such a sought-after and valuable resource and, of course, to our officers it's free of charge.

"The team is fast gaining a high level of expertise and operational credibility in the field of crime scene and victim search."

When not working, Frankie and Eddie are family dogs.

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