Rauour in action. Photo: Mark Hogarth

Rauour in action. Photo: Mark Hogarth

A mountain rescue hero has been honoured for his part in finding a missing woman in a blizzard.

Rauour, a three-year-old labrador search dog, received the PDSA’s commendation for devotion to duty.

The auburn-haired animal and his handler John Romanes joined a search by colleagues from the Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team in February last year. The pair were brought in after a three-hour search by 20 team volunteers failed to find the woman in the Innerleithen Forest.

The team was called out on 28 February 2015 to find a missing person thought to be at considerable risk. A Met Office amber weather warning was in place and blizzard conditions had already set in around the Innerleithen area.

The team had been searching the area on foot, which included dense woodland and steep slopes, for a couple of hours before Rauour and his handler, were sent to search an area at Leithen Water.

Rauour immediately started searching deep inside a thick conifer forest. Two minutes into his search, he signalled to Mr Romanes by barking enthusiastically.

Rauour had discovered the casualty: a woman trapped in the hole of a tree root, with only her legs visible. She was unconscious and suffering advanced hypothermia. The horrendous weather conditions, darkness and position of the victim meant team members on foot had passed by her location hours earlier without finding her.

Rauour wearing his helicopter winching harness

Rauour wearing his helicopter winching harness

Thanks to Rauour’s powers of scent detection, the casualty was found in the nick of time. Mr Romanes and his search partner Roddy administered emergency and called the Royal Navy helicopter to the hillside, to airlift her to hospital.

Mr Romanes said: “Rauour’s detection skills really came to the fore that night.

“His role as an air-scenting search dog was more effective than a 20-strong team performing a line search on the ground. Without him finding the casualty when he did, the outcome could have been very grave indeed.”

John Faulkner from PDSA presented Rauour with his award. He said: “PDSA has a long tradition of honouring animals and Rauour’s story really epitomises the value that animals bring to our lives. There is no doubt that without Rauour’s actions the situation would have been very different.

“The work of search and rescue dogs across the country is absolutely vital. Their skills are priceless and Rauour’s story serves as a reminder of just how lucky we are to have these dogs here to help us.”

Rauour means red in Icelandic. PDSA is the UK’s leading veterinary charity, treating 470,000 pets annually across its 51 Pet Hospitals. The charity strives to improve all pets’ lives through education, preventive care and emergency treatment.

Rauour and his handler are members of the Search and Rescue Dogs Association Southern Scotland.

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