Specially Trained Dogs Help Searchers in Oklahoma

May 23, 2013 Updated May 23, 2013 at 9:14 PM EDT

By Ed Reilly

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May 23, 2013 Updated May 23, 2013 at 9:14 PM EDT

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WKBW) The search for victims of the Oklahoma tornado is now coming to an end.

Twenty-four people died during the powerful storm which destroyed and damaged over 2,000 buildings.

Crews have been using specially trained rescue and cadaver dogs to try and locate those few people who remain unaccounted for.

According to retired Lockport Police K-9 officer Doug Wallace, these dogs need to be non-aggressive and playful because the dogs are trained to think of finding hidden humans as part of a game.

"The dog is basically looking for a toy, and in this situation in Oklahoma, the toy is a human person," added Wallace.

"You don't want the dog to be an aggressive type of dog because if he finds a victim in the rubble, you don't want him to bite."

Handlers have to be careful to not overwork the dogs by having them go too long before finding a victim.

"If you overwork the dog, and the dog doesn't find somebody, his demeanor will go down, his drive will go down, because the dog has not found what you want him to find. He wants to satisfy the handler," said Wallace.

In these cases, handlers will set up situations where the dog can locate a fellow handler - just to keep the animal's search instincts motivated.