They have a difficult job and one that often ends in heartbreak. The Southeast K-9 Search and Rescue team gets down into tornado debris and out in the wilderness to track a scent. Now, the group says they need help of their own.
"Our funding we had has been running out because we are working two or three times a week," said Chris Williams of Southeast K-9 Search and Rescue. "We've never before had to turn down any cases. Right now we're having to turn them down."
Williams is proud to show awards his team has picked up in its three years, including one signed by former President George H.W. Bush and another by President Barack Obama.
"There is no bill," said Williams. "When we come out, we come out with our personnel, our K-9s, our equipment. We never charge a family."
A team made up of 40 volunteers, Southeast K-9 Search and Rescue have worked missing persons cases including Holly Bobo, Chloe Leverette and Gage Daniel, David Riemens and missing mom Rachel Conger. Such an effort for a 2008 cold case meant so much to Conger's mother.
"The more you look, the more you get looking, the more interest you get in the case, the more likely it is she might be found," said Conger's mother, Louise Younger.
The group also travels to disaster scenes, like when they assisted tornado victims in Oklahoma.
Williams said the help may soon have to stop.
"We're probably looking at a couple more months," said Williams. "For the past year, we've pretty much been fronting the bills out of our own pockets because its something we love to do, but our donations have been down over the past year."
Williams said the group has necessary expenses not only for training the dogs but for getting the team search and rescue certifications and EMT training. With no government funding, he said the group needs a quick upswing in donations or a corporate sponsor to survive.
"The only thing we can do, and I've said this to you a hundred times, is leave it in God's hands," said Williams. "We hope everything works out. We're just praying we can get by until we're better."
Williams added vehicles are also a major expense. He's hoping a department will decide to donate some retired police vehicles.
If you'd like to donate to Southeast K-9 Search and Rescue, you can mail them to Southeast K-9 Search and Rescue at 211 Long St. E. McEwan, TN 37101 or call Chris Williams at 931-209-8863.
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