EDEN, Utah – In Ogden Valley, some 800 miles away from the search of Annie Schmidt in Portland, Oregon, Joe Jennings and his K-9 "Gunny" stepped in and their efforts paid off.
Gunny lives in Eden with handler, Joe Jennings.
“He's trained for avalanche, he's trained for wilderness live find, so finding the person lost in the woods, trained for cadaver search on land and on water,” said Joe Jennings, a K-9 Handler with Great Basin K9 SAR.
The duo took their expertise and experience to Portland, Oregon.
They were part of the Tri-state K9 Search and Rescue. Their mission was to help volunteers who had been searching for Annie. She had gone hiking alone in Oregon in October and vanished. Schmidt, the daughter of Jon Schmidt of "The Piano Guys," had recently moved from Utah to Oregon.
“There had been extensive searches conducted for her during that time with basically no trace whatsoever,” said Jennings.
On November 10th, eight teams positioned themselves near Munra Point - an area of very rugged and steep terrain.
A local guide steered Joe and Gunny in the right position. For about four hours, Gunny began smelling a scent up a hill and began barking.
“Basically what he was saying was 'I know she's here somewhere but I can't quite pinpoint her.',” Jennings said.
The next day, another handler and a K-9 named "Rue" went back to that spot. A few yards away, they found Annie’s remains.
“Certainly, part of it was we were very happy with the work that the dogs had done. They did exactly what they had spent years training to do,” said Jennings.
Jennings is part of a non-profit organization. Thanks to generous donations, they can offer the services for free. In this case, the Schmidt family offered to pay for their travel expenses. While it wasn’t the outcome the family hoped for, Joe is grateful he could play a small role.
“Although it's a very tragic situation, we were able to bring a little bit of closure to the family," Jennings said.