Emma Milburn with Dart, who is now Dunedin's fourth
operational LandSAR dog, along with Fin and his handler,
Dermot Mayock. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Meet Dart, the South's latest canine crusader.
After three years of intensive training, the energetic border
bearded collie huntaway cross becomes the fourth fully
qualified LandSAR airscent search dog, also known as a
wilderness search dog, to be based in Dunedin.
Dart and her handler, Emma Milburn, successfully passed an
assessment at Boyle River in the Lewis Pass last weekend,
which Ms Milburn described as ''the most stressful thing I
have done in my whole life''.
Ms Milburn said she decided to become an operational handler
after combining her interests in search and rescue and dogs.
Fellow handler Dermot Mayock said it was an enormous
achievement by Ms Milburn and Dart, who would now be assessed
annually, alongside other South Island-based dogs and
The volunteers were often called early on to help in a search
for a missing person.
A qualified airscent dog was able to detect human scent in
heavy bush, along beaches, lake shores, farmland and parks,
day or night, and regardless of weather conditions, he said.
The dogs were good at locating missing children and those
with Alzheimer's, as ''those people don't always respond when
shouted at by searchers''.
The other Dunedin-based dog handlers are Nicholas Sleeman
(with Gus) and Barry Dougherty (with Yip).