Locals aid in mudslide search efforts

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Misty has trained her whole life. She's a good dog with amazing abilities.

Misty was called into action by the Yakima County Search and Rescue. Her mission was focused.

Misty, her handler Barbra Lee and team leader Ruth Hanson headed to the site of the Oso mudslide to search for those lost in the disaster.

"You see these parts of people's lives, and you don't know what you're going to find, you don't know where you're going to go." said Barbra. "And it's very intense, very emotional."

Misty is crucial to the search because, unlike her partner, her nose can see through the debris, helping her detect where victims may be and when it's time for the search team to move on to another location.

"If you had a big blender, and you put the houses and the trees and the cars and everything in there and blended it up and then dumped it out," said Ruth.

The trio acts as a team. Misty guides Ruth and Barbra to possible victims. They guide her away from trouble. But sometimes it was unavoidable.

"I'm trying to pull myself out and watching Misty, where she's going, and she sinks in the mud, and she actually ended up having to swim up out of some of the water and mud and gunk," said Barbra.

On the second day of their search, Misty cut her paw, ending her search efforts and leaving her with stitches.

It was a bittersweet end for the team: glad they could help provide some closure to those who lost loved ones, but disappointed they couldn't do more.

"If you don't know for sure what happened, that leaves a really big hole in people's lives and their hearts," Ruth said.

Misty was trying to fill that hole, and her owner is proud of that.

There are 11 teammates and nine dogs in the Yakima County Sheriff Search and Rescue K-9 team. Two dogs and three teammates have gone to Oso.