Puppy joins Snowbird’s avalanche search and rescue team

Posted at 8:16 PM, Nov 03, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-03 22:16:25-05

LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON -- A little puppy has a big career ahead of her at Snowbird.

Marty the dog is one of the newest members of the avalanche search and rescue team.

By the end of this winter, the 2-year-old pup will be a fully certified avalanche dog.

“She needs to be treated like a service dog, that's why she wears her vest, which identifies her as a service dog,” said Eric Murakami, Snow Safety Supervisor for Snowbird “Although we like to socialize her with people. She really isn't a pet, she is a service dog.”

All Snowbird avalanche dogs eventually join an elite pack that makes up Wasatch Backcountry Rescue.

Murakami, who is one of Marty’s handlers, said avalanches are almost never triggered within the ski resort's boundaries, but if that happens there's no better resource than a dog like Marty.

“The dog's noses are invaluable. Several dozen people searching is equal to what a dogs nose is,” Murakami said.

Marty is expected to work on the mountain for another 10 years.

Murakami said the training is life long, but it's the obedience training she learns now that will make all the difference if an avalanche does happen.