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Jackie Johnson, Gizmo and Crush

Jackie Johnson, MABE professor at the University of Tennessee Space Institute spent 11 days in Mexico Beach to prepare for and clean up from Hurricane Michael. She did not travel alone though, as well as being part of an 80-strong Tennessee Task Force 1 (TN-TF1) team, she was accompanied by her K9s, Gizmo and Crush. Gizmo is her certified FEMA live find dog who assists in finding people that may be buried or trapped under debris but not initially visible or heard by the rescue teams. Crush is her certified FEMA cadaver dog; cadaver dogs search specifically for the scent of human remains. There are fewer than 400 dog/handler teams in the country that are FEMA certified, Johnson’s dog Crush was certified just four days before they were deployed to Florida. Johnson feels honored that she and her dogs were able to help in this disaster and experience how training pays off first – hand. She said a lot of the work is clearing debris and making sure no one is buried but they had some positive finds as well, bringing closure to the families.