In Joplin, Joker, Brick and Noggin Join the Search
By ILAN BRAT
JOPLIN, Mo.—At 10 a.m. on Thursday, a group of canine-search specialists from Texas Task Force 1, the state's search and rescue division, headed out along the railroad tracks to search for bodies in the devastated section of the city.
They had driven all night from different parts of Texas to help the recovery efforts, two brown Belgian Malinois dogs and a black Labrador retriever traveling in black crates in a white van.
The seven split up, with Brick and Noggin, the Malinois dogs, taking the west side of the tracks and Joker, the Labrador, following the east.
Carla Collins, Joker's handler, called out 'such,' the German word for 'search,' then guided him first to the remains of Dillons grocery store.
She, Joker and another member of the team clambered over the collapsed western wall of the store into the alcohol section, Joker unleashed and uncollared. The smell of beer faintly was in the air.
Joker scurried around the rubble inside the store, climbing atop soda bottles, bread and other groceries that covered the floor and under sections of wooden beams from the roof that had fallen down.
'He's in hunt mode. He's running around. It's not a slow thing,' Ms. Collins, who normally runs a dog-training business in Dallas recalled Thursday afternoon.
They scoured the rest of the store, including the foul-smelling meat counter, where Joker climbed on top of a giant rack of cow ribs, but didn't dig in.
They perused the rest of the store and its surrounding lot, then searched a nearby grassy field of debris, but found no bodies.
Brick and Noggin, the Malinois dogs, searched small houses and an apartment complex but also found nothing on Thursday morning and early afternoon.
'We're helping people in getting closure,' said Jim Yeager, who headed the team.
After taking a break at about 3 p.m., the team headed out again an hour and a half later with new orders: scour the area around the devastated St. John's Regional Medical Center.