CROWN POINT | A search-and-rescue dog is expected to join local ranks soon, thanks to a fundraising effort by Crown Point firefighter Ryan Cusack.
Jake, a fox red British Labrador retriever, is being trained in Tennessee after being selected for work with the Crown Point Fire Rescue Department.
"In March or April I'll go down to Tennessee to train with him," said Cusack, whose effort to raise $10,000 for the dog's purchase, training and maintenance was launched in December.
Donations are about halfway to the $10,000 goal, and fundraising will continue to ensure the dog has proper equipment and upkeep throughout his tenure with the department, Cusack said.
Guidelines for the department's handling of the dog were adopted by the Board of Public Works and Safety.
Once in Crown Point later this year, the dog will take part in missions undertaken by District 1 of Indiana Homeland Security, of which the Crown Point Fire Rescue Department is a member.
Cusack will be the dog's handler and provide a home for him.
The need for search and rescue dogs has grown as new techniques emerge for handling rescues. The dogs are able to squeeze into small spaces and are more efficient in locating victims, Cusack said.
The breeding kennel that selected Jake for Crown Point looks for dogs with the drive, ambition and energy needed for the work, Cusack said.
"They're evaluated to make sure they're going to want to search," Cusack said.
The breed's natural hunting abilities and olfactory skills are directed to the retrieval of humans trapped in disasters.
The dogs are rewarded with a toy and the opportunity to engage in play with their handler, something the dogs love, Cusack said.