Gainesville Fire Rescue welcomes new search dog
By HEATHER RIGGS, Special to The Gainesville Sun
Gainesville Fire Rescue has a fluffy addition to its team.
Harley, a 60-pound golden retriever, recently became fully trained and certified as a “live find” dog. His task is to help search for people trapped under collapsed structures and rubble.
Harley, a 60-pound golden retriever, recently became fully trained and certified as a “live find” dog. His task is to help search for people trapped under collapsed structures and rubble. He is the first GFR search dog, although the agency had an arson dog several years ago, said Harley’s owner, Preston Attebery, a GFR paramedic and firefighter.
Attebery said he chose to train Harley as a search dog because he felt the skills they would learn together would be best suited for the line of work they will do.
For the last 18 months, Attebery has been teaching Harley various techniques, ranging from basic obedience to agility training. Harley can climb ladders, walk across beams, teeter-totter and go through tunnels. He has also learned a bark alert to let Attebery know he has found someone.
Shortly after turning 2 years old, Harley received official certification as a search dog. He and Attebery are now part of the Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 8 Team, a group of professionals from Alachua, Marion, Ocala and Gainesville prepared for special types of rescue and disaster recovery.
Harley is the only certified pup in the region, although a number of Florida agencies, including Jacksonville, Tampa and Miami-Dade, have such dogs.