Search dogs at mudslide get a 2-day break — and decontamination

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Death Toll Continues To Mount After Massive Washington Mudslide

A search and rescue dog works his way through deep muck at the Oso mudslide site on Saturday, March 29, 2014. The dogs on Sunday were being given a two-day break because of the physical toll from the terrible conditions. (Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images)

DARRINGTON, Wash. — The canine teams searching for victims in the rain and amid the deep muck of the Snohomish County mudslide debris field are being given a two-day break, an official said Sunday.

“Conditions on the slide field are difficult, and so this is just a time to take care of the dogs,” Washington State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kris Rietmann told reporters at a morning briefing in Darrington. “In addition, after a long time on a scene, dogs can lose their sensing ability, so taking that break is important.”

Heavy rain has turned the debris field into a muddy quagmire, making movement difficult for all the searchers, but especially for the specially trained dogs.

The dogs will be given rotating breaks, so that some dogs are always working the search effort.

Search officials have said the dog teams have been their most important tool in their weeklong effort to find victims of the mudslide, as they are able to point searchers to a location where bodies have been found.

The dogs — and all searchers — are being decontaminated at the end of their work day. Below is a raw video of the decontamination process for a search dog, and a video of Bellevue Fire Department Lt. Richard Burke explaining why decontamination is needed.

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  • Kenmar Bual

    My #sorrow does not compare to the #grief of those directly affected, the #victims, their #friends #families #colleagues. It's an unimaginable tragedy for which I have no reference to balance its stunning magnitude. I worry about the pets, those who have been lost & especially those who survive, injured, without their #beloved #families. Let's make sure the survivors- #people & #pets- have TLC of the most #compassionate level as they struggle to move forward. It's our #responsibility as a #society.