Ramsey woman trains Rebel for search and rescue

Katelyn Croteau got a little 8-week-old yellow lab April 5. Recognizing the dog’s feisty nature, high energy and constant curiosity, Croteau named the pup Rebel – and she’s been her pride and joy ever since.

Should seven-month-old yellow Labrador retriever Rebel pass tests and become certified this fall with the North American Working Police Dog Association, she will be one of the youngest dogs to certify as an area search and live find disaster dog.

Should seven-month-old yellow Labrador retriever Rebel pass tests and become certified this fall with the North American Working Police Dog Association, she will be one of the youngest dogs to certify as an area search and live find disaster dog.Photo by Sue Austreng

“I got her from a small breeder in Bemidji,” said Croteau, the human half of the Northstar Search and Rescue Canine Team Rebel and a 2010 graduate of Anoka High School.

“She’s got a wonderful pedigree from a long hunting line. She’s got the drive and the intelligence, the energy and the curiosity – she’s just got everything you want in a search and rescue dog.”

From the time they became a team back in April, Croteau has spent countless hours training her pup as an area search and live find disaster dog. Later this fall, when she’s just 8 months old, Croteau expects Rebel to pass the tests and receive certification with the North American Working Police Dog Association.

“She’ll be considered one of the youngest dogs ever to certify,” said Croteau.

Northstar Search and Rescue assists sheriff’s departments and other law enforcement agencies working to find people missing or lost due to disasters like tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, explosions, blizzards and more.

“There are seven dogs in Northstar Search and Rescue now. Rebel is one of two area search dogs,” Croteau said.

The volunteer non-profit search and rescue squad covers all of Minnesota and the five-state region, providing trained and nationally certified K9/handler teams for air scent, wilderness and urban searches; trailing, wilderness and urban searches; cadaver water or land searches; disaster searches; and evidence searches.

“I hope to also certify Rebel through FEMA, too,” said Croteau, a law enforcement student at Metropolitan State University. “Then if there’s a disaster and search and rescue is needed, we can be sent anywhere in the country to help out.”

Rebel can already search an area of up to 80 acres and Croteau anticipates a long, life-saving career for her.

“I got her April 5 and she’s been my pride and joy ever since. She’s a great dog, a hard worker and very intelligent. She’s going to do great things,” said Croteau.

As a volunteer, non-profit agency, Northstar Search and Rescue runs on the generosity of its supporters to outfit and equip their canines.

The vest Rebel must wear during search and rescue missions costs $150, the harness $100, Croteau said.

“It’s expensive … That’s why we appreciate support so much,” she said.

To help outfit Rebel, donations can be made to the Northstar Search and Rescue Rebel Fund by contacting Croteau at crka1084@gmail.com or by mailing a donation to her at 15620 Sunfish Lake Blvd., Ramsey, MN 55303.

To learn more about the Northstar Search and Rescue team, visit www.NorthstarSAR.com.

Sue Austreng is at
sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

 
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