How Kamloops search dog Ranger is helping to find missing Shannon White | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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How Kamloops search dog Ranger is helping to find missing Shannon White

A Kamloops man has completed 18 days of searching for missing Shannon White with his trained search dog Ranger and he is optimistic she will be found soon.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Mike Ritcey

A Kamloops man has completed 18 days of searching for missing Shannon White with his trained search dog Ranger and he is optimistic she will be found soon.

Mike Ritcey has spent decades working at the B.C. Ambulance Service, and in the search and rescue field. He volunteers his time to search for missing people. He said he and Ranger have found missing people in the past.

“I think Shannon's case is solvable,” he said. “I think we’ll be able to find her, it is just going to take time. Every time someone goes out searching, the area gets smaller. You just keep crossing areas off the map.”

White, 32, disappeared on Nov. 1, when she left her Kamloops home to drive to work. Her Jeep was found parked on Nicola Street near 3 Avenue.

READ MORE: Relative of missing Kamloops woman grateful for outpouring of community support

Ranger has been on many searches and has even flown around in a helicopter. The dog is trained to cover large swaths of ground and retrieve any items that are human related.

“As long as there is scent on an article the dog will find it,” Ritcey said. “So you don’t have to find it right away. We go out hoping for a big debris field. The dog will bring items and if it is relevant to the case, the location is marked and authorities are contacted. Search dogs are comfortable in all terrain and cover a lot of ground.”

Shannon White, 32, has been missing from Kamloops since Nov. 1, 2021.
Shannon White, 32, has been missing from Kamloops since Nov. 1, 2021.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK

Ritcey said Ranger is the third validated search and rescue dog he has owned. Validators are RCMP dog handlers and the validation standard comes from the RCMP, who are the only ones able to dispatch the search dogs.

“The RCMP validate dogs every year and make sure they are all in top form,” he said. “Search teams have close working relationships with RCMP dog handlers. They are the professionals and help with training when they have time.”

Ritcey said it takes about two years of training before a dog is ready to search. He estimates there are currently around 15 trained, validated search dogs in the province.

READ MORE: Kamloops Search and Rescue helped save people in flooded Merritt

“Ranger is a yellow lab,” he said. “All of my dogs have been this breed, I like how they behave and what they look like. He also has validation in narcotic detection. I was bored at the onset of the pandemic so I trained him up and took him to Vancouver to get validated.”

Ritcey said he grew up with dogs and when search and rescue operations began using dogs it was natural for him to start working with one.

“This is a busy job,” he said. “There is always someone to look for. I hope RCMP will consider using more dogs for searching, they are very useful.”

Ranger is a search and rescue dog in Kamloops.
Ranger is a search and rescue dog in Kamloops.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Kamloops Search and Rescue

He and Ranger will keep searching for White until she is found.

“There are all kinds of tricks of the trade we use out there,” he said. “You would have to see it to understand it. It can be frustrating because we never know if we are in the right area. For now we need to keep searching and keep her story out there.”

Whether he is taking part on the Kamloops Search and Rescue team, or going out alone, Ritcey said he makes sure not to interfere with investigations and always asks permission from RCMP before he heads out.

Alan Hobler has been the manager at Kamloops Search and Rescue for over a decade. He said there are lots of different types of resources his team uses.

“The dogs are very useful for covering a much larger area, one dog can cover that of what ten people can,” Hobler said. “They are really good at getting into those places searchers eyes often don’t see. They find clues like articles of clothing or other things that have been dropped.”

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Hobler said he is passionate about doing search and rescue work. His team has put in over 3,000 hours of searching for White.

“There is a lot happening behind the scenes,” he said. “We have been very active on this case and the search conditions have been favourable. Volunteer searchers... are very engaged. Everyone wants closure on this case.”

White left her home in Kamloops's Lower Sahali neighbourhood at approximately 8 a.m., Nov. 2. She didn't arrive at her job at Kamloops Hyundai on Notre Dame Drive as expected. The next day her Jeep was found parked on Nicola Street near 3 Avenue.

Her vehicle was observed travelling west on the Trans-Canada Highway, shortly after she was supposed to have arrived at work. On the same day White was reported missing, her Jeep travelled northbound on the Yellowhead Highway, past Rayleigh, before returning south, passing Rayleigh about 45 minutes later, according to an RCMP media release issued on Nov.15.

No new information about White's disappearance has been released by the RCMP's serious crime unit, and the search by Kamloops Search and Rescue has been suspended.


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