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Avalanche dogs save lives in Colorado - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Avalanche dogs save lives in Colorado

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BRECKENRIDGE -

Plenty of snow in the Colorado mountains at this time of year means a lot of people going where it's deep to play, which increases avalanche dangers. Even with advances in safety technology, avalanche dogs remain an essential part of the statewide effort to keep people safe.

The pros at Breckenridge, who are also a part of the statewide response team, took News 5's Bill Folsom along to see what a day in the life of an avalanche dog is like.

"As soon as you pet their vest on, they know their job and life has changed, and they go from the pet role right into the professional working dog," said Breckenridge avalanche technician Hunter Mortensen. His dog, Tali, is one of those dogs -- one of those with the fascinating drive and ability to save lives.

At Breckenridge, extensive measures work to keep avalanche danger outside resort boundaries. The dogs are on the mountain as an extra precaution. Their experience at the resort is practice, but because of their certification, they have been part of searches in other parts of Colorado’s high country. 

"If there's an avalanche anywhere in the state we will get the closest certified dog team there via helicopter as fast as we can," Mortensen said. 

Avalanche dogs have their own ski passes and are trained to calmly climb on to ski lifts. Dressed in their red uniforms marked with white crosses, the dogs, many of which were rescued, are now capable of rescuing people.

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