Feb 25, 2010 11:06 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Avalanche rescue dogs play critical role at Winter Olympics

When an avalanche hits, seconds matter more than minutes to get to someone who may be trapped in the snow.

That's why members of the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Team working the Olympics are ready to go at a moments notice.

An avalanche is the most dangerous event in the high country.

And if a human being is buried, veteran ski patrollers know the first half hour, is critical.

"Your chances of survival drop by 80 percent if you're not found in that first 30 minutes," said Ian Bunbury of the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association.

Hector the Border Collie was literally bred to be an avalanche rescue dog.

And he is relentless at going about his work.

"His job is to indicate where human scent is rising up out of the snow. My job is to recognize when he's giving me that indication," Bunbury said.

To allow hector to demonstrate we buried a certain reporter beneath the substantial snows of Whistler.

From there on out our canine friend was all business.

Hector knows that where he detects a human that person just may have his favorite toy.

It's what he's really looking for the reason he attacks his job with such glee.

The experts know that an avalanche can happen at any time.

For that reason Ian and hector must be ready to go at a moment's notice.

"You know, Mother Nature makes that call," Bunbury said.

Man's best friend especially when every second counts.



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