press release - 08121302






Search and Rescue Dog Retires in a "Blaze" of Glory

Santa Barbara - 12th, 2013

Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue dog “Blaze” formally entered retirement this past weekend at a private ceremony located on a ranch where he and handler Juanita Smith regularly trained. Blaze, a CARDA (California Rescue Dog Association) certified search dog was surrounded by other search dogs, dog handlers, Search & Rescue team members, and Sheriff’s Office personnel as they paid tribute to his nine years of service.

“I would like to say that I trained ‘Blaze’ but in reality, he trained me,” said Smith.  “There were times on the trail that I would give a little back pressure on the lead and ask Blaze if he was sure; he would look back at me and with his body language say ‘trust me, I got it,’ …and he would be right.”

“I had several occasions where I called out Juanita and Blaze and every time we found evidence that Blaze was on the track” said Lt. Brad McVay of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office. “I had great faith in Juanita and Blaze as a team and knew if anyone could locate our search subject it was them.”

Over the past 12 years, Blaze assisted on 81 searches, including 52 in-county and 29 out-of-county searches totaling 533 hours. Among his local career highlights were the 2005 North County search for a missing motorcyclist, and the 2010 Santa Barbara Backcountry search for a missing swimmer last seen at the White Rock Campground. Serving out-of-county, Smith and Blaze were a part of the 2009 Malibu State Park search for Mitrice Richardson; and the 2010 San Diego search for missing juvenile Chelsea King. Blaze’s deployments spanned 12,199 travel miles – not including his regular trainings.

This is Smith’s 2nd working dog. A former K9 handler with the Santa Barbara City Police Department, Smith worked with Patrol K-9 “Guss” for five years and had several criminal apprehensions credited to their career. A new Border Collie puppy, “Caper,” is in training to be CARDA-certified mission-ready as a Human Remains Detection dog.

Humans drop about 40,000 skin cells per minute by evaporated perspiration, respiratory gasses, or decomposition gasses released by bacterial action on skin or tissues and every human produces a distinctive and different odor.  Trailing dogs are trained in scent discrimination, and when given an uncontaminated scent article from the missing person, a properly trained trailing dog can follow the isolated scent of that missing person.

CARDA is the country’s largest search dog group, setting the gold standard for search dog requirements. Certified teams are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue, Inc. is an all-volunteer 501(c)3 non-profit organization. To find out more or to support the team visit .

For all Media Inquiries Please Contact:

PIO Kelly Hoover

Business Hours: (805) 681-4100

Copyright 2013 Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office, All Rights Reserved