Money for rescue dog may aid others

`Barney fund' remainder eyed for search canines

August 02, 1999|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Call it Barney's legacy.

Barney, a rescue dog owned by a Baltimore County firefighter, was diagnosed with cancer in 1996, and a campaign to raise money for his treatment netted $48,900 over seven months.

Barney's treatment cost $16,700 before he died in 1997, and the balance of the money has been sitting in county coffers since. But the County Council is expected to award that money tonight to a fledgling canine search and rescue group operated by another Baltimore County firefighter from his Mount Washington home.

"It seems like it's in keeping with the nature of the original donations," council Chairman Kevin B. Kamenetz, a Pikesville-Randallstown Democrat, said last week.

Bruce Snyder, who founded Chesapeake Search and Rescue Dog Association two years ago, said the money will purchase radios, clothing and other equipment, pay for an educational videotape about the group's work and fund training courses for handlers and their dogs.

Snyder said he will donate 20 percent of the funds to county police to train police dogs. Another 20 percent will be distributed to the eight other canine search and rescue groups operating in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and southern New Jersey, he said.

Rescue officials say that Snyder's group and others like it perform a vital service.

"The main advantage is they can cover a huge area in a short amount of time," said Cole Brown, search and rescue coordinator for State Forest and Park Service of the Department of Natural Resources.

Cole said a search for a missing person over a square mile of woods would take 260 human volunteers about three hours. Three dogs can cover the same area in the same time.

He said search and rescue dogs from Snyder's group are called out about 50 times a year in Maryland.

Snyder requested the funds 10 months ago and has been lobbying for them since. He has argued that his organization has become more important because county officials disbanded the Fire Department's three-dog canine unit last fall in a cost-cutting move.

Snyder acknowledged that the Baltimore County Police Department's 34-dog canine unit responds first to any county search and rescue operation.

"We might go a month and only have one call, and then we'll have three in a week," Snyder said.

Snyder's dog, a 4-year-old golden retriever named Riggs, was called out in 1996 to look for victims in the wreckage of tornado- damaged houses in Carroll County. That year, Riggs also pinpointed the buried remains of two women killed in Southwest Baltimore.

Over the years, Riggs has combed through woods and fields to find dozens of missing children and nursing home patients.

Pub Date: 8/02/99

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