It wasn’t lions, tigers and bears, but dogs and birds of prey were on showcase at the Adams County Libraries this past week.
Gloria Napier of Buckeye Search and Rescue Dogs and her two search dogs were on hand at the Manchester Library on Friday teaching those in attendance how the dogs in their program find missing people.
“Our team finds five to eight people a year,” Napier said. “We probably get about 45 calls per year and for almost all calls for a missing live person, they’re found before we arrive on the scene, which is the best news there is.”
Buckeye Search an Rescue Dogs has 19 handlers who own 29 dogs and is an all-volunteer staff, never charging for finding a missing person. Napier and her dogs have gone as far as Lake Erie and New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to help search for people.
Napier says the dogs are so skilled at finding people due to the enormous amount of scent receptors the canines have.
“Humans have about 20 million scent receptors while dogs have about 320 million,” Napier said. “Dogs even have scent glands inside of their mouths.”
Napier said the dogs are trained on a bimonthly basis and that the dogs, once in their care, train for the rest of their lives.
“We’re training all the time,” Napier said. “As a team we train twice a month, but really we’re doing something with our dogs all the time, and it’s really to make sure we keep our skills up. We need to know that we’re reading the dogs correctly. Even if they’re retired, they do this all their lives. We still take them to training because they love it and we owe it to them to maintain their quality of life.”
On Monday, Raptor Inc., a rehabilitation organization for birds of prey such as owls, hawks, ospreys and even buzzards, were on hand at the West Union Library.
Those in attendance were able to observe and learn about a great horned owl, a red shoulder hawk and a turkey vulture.
The Milford-based sanctuary takes in birds of prey which aren’t fit to live in the wild in some capacity and attempts to release the birds back into the wild if at all possible.
“They may be injured, but they’re still wild birds,” Robert E. Smith, with Raptor, said “We don’t treat them as pets because they’re not pets.
“If you take these birds out of the environment, you can imagine what would happen if there was nothing to eat mice, if there was nothing to control the rat population and nothing to control any of the rodents,” Smith said. “It’s vital that these birds have a place in our society and that we respect what they do and protect them.”
Adults and children in attendance learned facts like how a great horned owl can see about five times as well as a human with 20/20 vision, allowing it to see small animals like mice at night up to about 100 feet away, and how the fastest member of the animal kingdom is the peregrine falcon, which can reach speeds of more than 200 mph.
One of the more common causes of injury Raptor is seeing now, especially in the owl population, is birds getting caught up in soccer nets at night when chasing prey. Often times, the group can nurse the bird back to health and release it back into its own territory near its mate.
Not all injuries Raptor takes care of are physical, according to the group. The turkey vulture that was on display has no physical injuries, but was raised from birth by a farmer who the bird identified as his mother. The bird learned to rely on humans for food and, after becoming a bit too friendly with families enjoying a picnics at a local park, Raptor was called in to care for the buzzard.
Earl, the buzzard on hand, is 31 years old. Wild buzzards live to be about 30 but because Earl is in captivity, the organization has no idea how long the bird will live.
For more information about Buckeye Search and Rescue Dogs, visit its website at www.buckeyesardogs.org. For more information about Raptor, visit www.raptorinc.org.