Walla Walla Search and Rescue gets a new pair of eyes...and four - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Walla Walla Search and Rescue gets a new pair of eyes...and four paws

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WALLA WALLA, WA - Walla Walla Search and Rescue is adding a new member to its team.

Meet Duncan. The 2-year-old German Shepherd was certified as a wilderness search and rescue dog earlier this month. His handler, Colin Justin, says his heightened senses aren't the only tools he'll bring to the Walla Walla Search and Rescue Team.

"The majority of the time he's working I actually can't even see him, I'm watching his movements on a GPS," Justin said. "That lets us know which areas he's covering well and also if he hangs out in an area for a long period of time we know it's an area of interest, and we can go and investigate."

The tracker means Duncan will be able to greatly reduce the amount of time - and humans - needed for a search.

"A search and rescue dog does the work of about six ground searchers," said Justin.

And it's not just high-tech gear that's going to help Duncan get the job done.

"So the bell is useful for a couple different reasons," Justin explained. "The most important one is it lets me know where he is roughly, so most of the time he'll be close enough that I can hear the bell and know is he moving fast or slow if he moving to my left or my right. It's useful for getting wildlife out of the way and it's useful because it lets other people know that there's a dog coming not a coyote or wolf or something." 

Even if you can't do what Duncan does, Justin says Search and Rescue is always looking for people to lend a helping hand.

"Really, we're all private citizens who do this just on our free time basically, and we have a training program for anybody who wants to join."

Duncan is the only canine member of Walla Walla Search and Rescue, but if all goes according to plan, that won't last for long. The owner of a terrier mix hopes to have her certified sometime this fall.