UPDATE: The Washington State Patrol said Friday afternoon that it had learned the subject of this story, Shane Barco, was not a search and rescue dog handler and was escorted from the search area.
The conditions at the Oso mudslide are not only taking a toll on the human searchers but search dogs, too.
Handler Shane Barco and his 3-year-old German Shepherd, Stratus, came in from Bellingham on the first day and have been out every day since, searching the debris.
“She had to climb up on top of some debris and navigate some pretty tough stuff and it took a lot out of her,” Barco.
Stratus has picked up the scent of human remains.
This is a different challenge for the many search dogs that are used to avalanche searches or finding missing people in the woods. The landslide includes people’s kitchens and food pantries all churned together in one big mess, so it can be confusing.
Barco says Stratus gets frustrated at times by the repetition and lack of progress, so they often have to stop and rest together.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen her actually shutdown for a little while yesterday. I think it’s just as discouraging to the dogs not to make any finds, you know, life finds,” said Barco.