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La Crosse Dive Unit begins K-9 search and rescue workshop

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - A three-day workshop around Goose Island Park south of La Crosse features K-9 teams and instructors from around the country coming together to improve their important emergency search and rescue skills.

The La Crosse Dive Unit is one of the teams participating in the workshop.

The teams are practicing different scenarios as part of the training.

One exercise featured a search boat making several passes around a scented item in the water.

The dog, aboard the boat, pinpointed the location of the scent and directed the team with a point. K-9s help decrease search hours and reach victims in the water sooner.

"With the dog's thousands of years of being able to smell stuff, we find that on the water, they're probably a lot quicker and faster than us trying to run sonar or underwater cameras," said Kevin Kappauf, Training Officer of the La Crosse Dive Unit.

The workshop includes instructors from around the country sharing their expertise in search and rescue. One of the instructors is Lisa Higgins, an expert from Louisiana who is a civilian contractor K-9 handler for the FBI.

A grant from the La Crosse Community Foundation funded the workshop. It provided a new tool for the search and rescue team as well. A Panasonic TOUGHBOOK is a durable computer that provides access to aerial photography while on the water.

The Dive Team will continue to use technology and natural trackers in tandem throughout the workshop.

Sam Dunnum

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