The City of Thomasville played host to a team of search and recovery dogs along with their handlers for a series of training exercises at the Old Cemetery, FlipperCemetery and Civil War POW site, Tuesday, March 17, 2015. K-9 handler Suzi Goodhope coordinated the event in conjunction with City of Thomasville Senior Assistant City Manager Kha McDonald, who is in charge of restoration and preservation efforts within Thomasville’s historic properties.
Commonly known as cadaver dogs, 10 K-9s and eight handlers conducted training exercises at the historic sites in order to gain real-world experience with detecting trace human scents.
Thomasville’s historic cemeteries are no stranger to the cadaver dogs, who have played a large role in detecting unmarked graves within their borders.
“Before we allocated money to ground penetrating radar, Suzi and her colleagues were contacted in order to make some preliminary determinations about the locations of unmarked graves within our historic cemeteries,” McDonald said. “Suzi’s ability to provide this service has been an invaluable tool with regard to our historic preservation efforts and to me in my role with the City and as the Region 7 Director of the Georgia Municipal Cemetery Association.”
Through the use of ground penetrating radar, 722 unmarked graves in the Flipper Cemetery and 176 unmarked graves in the Old Cemetery have been identified.
The team of handlers who participated in the training events included individuals from Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Louisiana and South Carolina. One participant, veteran cadaver dog handler, Lisa Higgins, has responded to more than four hundred search and recovery efforts within the United States. Other participants were from law enforcement search and rescue operations, including a helicopter pilot who works cadaver dogs.