Local first responders are rescuing shelter dogs in hopes of returning the favor to others.
The Monroe City K-9 Search and Rescue team formed several years ago with the mission of training dogs to rescue the lost and injured.
Four-year-old German Shepherd Diesel can jump and climb. In a traumatic situation, he's just the four-legged friend you'd want to have.
Looking at Diesel now ... it's hard to believe he was just days away from death at a kill-shelter last year.
That is until Rich Enochs with the Monroe City K-9 Search and Rescue team stepped in. Now Diesel is trained in the fine art of sniffing out the lost and the injured. Click here to hear more about Diesel's story.
"Every dog has the potential to the dog is only as smart as you let it be," Enochs said. "It's up to us to teach the dog."
Diesel is certified in Search and Rescue, thanks to the teaching of Enochs and other team members. He's one of six dogs that make up the team of rescue or recovery dogs.
"It's unique to teach a dog how to track a trail that someone's walked six hours before. It's not a hot trail," Enochs said.
Other dogs are being trained as human remains recovery dogs ... which requires completely different training in scent recognition. But important training to bring closure to families who've lost a loved one.
The dogs are also trained to go through obstacles like windows and a frame tower. This teaches the dogs to be ready to go through anything, from a forest or urban area to a disaster situation like Joplin, Missouri ... where the only way in was through a window.
"It teaches him to focus on what he needs to do and to get his stamina," Enochs said.
Click here to watch Diesel go through an obstacle challenge.
Any local law enforcement, emergency management agency or fire department can activate the canine search unit ... bring this free service to those who need it most. And that's what keeps this team working, no matter the work and time it takes.
"We saved a dog that was going to be put to sleep so he could save a child or an elderly person or a missing person and that's an awesome way to go," Enochs said.
Interestingly enough, trainers say search dogs should be the first call police and first responders make in a search for a missing person.
That's because too many people on a trail can make it harder for dogs to locate the scent of the missing person.
That's means the search could take longer - when time is of the essence.