Cadaver dogs search Baker High for bodies

By Laura Ann Sills - email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Specially trained cadaver dogs went into the Old Baker High School Thursday.

Columbus Fire and EMS Deputy Chief Robert Futrell said, "There is no way we could search this building without these dogs."

Three teams of cadaver dogs searched the rubble of Old Baker High a week after it was destroyed by fire.  Fire officials said they knew the school was used as a hangout and refuge for the homeless and although they did not believe anyone was inside, sending in the dogs was an extra precaution.

Each team consists of a hound, and their handler.

The first dog to go in, Minke, is trained on the scent of human remains.  Minke's trainer, Brigitte Basey, explained, "She will try to pick up the odor from the air currents and if she gets close to one odor she will investigate and get closer and closer."

Each team spent less than an hour inside the building.  The trainers said it is hard on the dogs to be in such hot conditions and breathe in the foul air for a long period of time.

No bodies were found in the rubble.

This is the first time since the Bibb Mill fire that cadaver dogs have been used in a fire investigation.

Most all of the team from South Georgia Search Dogs (SGSD) are retired from other professions.  They said they work to give back to the community.  Deputy Chief Futrell said, "We have actively been working with dog teams for probably 15-20 years." About the SGSD's, "They are volunteers, they do not get paid for this, and they provide a valuable resource for us."

For more information about the South Georgia Search Dogs, click here.

Investigators continue to analyze evidence from Baker High and are trying to determine a cause.  They have not been able to give us a timeline for when more details will be released.

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