Location: Atlanta, Ga.
About fifty times a year, Paul Ruszczyk’s phone rings with a request from law enforcement in north and central Georgia: come soon, and bring the dogs. Paul Ruszczyk, a senior transmission engineer at Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time Warner, is also the co-founder of the all-volunteer K-9 Alpha Search and Rescue Team, which has been helping law enforcement locate missing people and bodies since 2004. The team of about 15 people are all trained in CPR, first aid and search and rescue, while the dogs specialize in cadaver search (locating scents associated with decaying bodies), tracking and trailing (following the path of a particular person’s scent) or air scent search (locating any human scent in an area). Initially, Paul volunteered as a dog handler; his black lab Barney, now retired, was a search and rescue dog. Today, Paul serves as a dog trainer for the team. “About half of the calls are for people who are already dead,” Paul says, adding, “a live find makes it all worth it.” But even when the search and rescue team locates a body, Paul says the work serves an essential purpose. “Part of it is the closure you bring to a family—whether you bring the person alive and dead, at least you bring that much.”