In August 2020, LG awarded Adele Jago of Sydney, New South Wales as a deserving LG Local Legend. Adele has dedicated thousands of hours every year to locate missing persons, such as those lost in the bush or as a result of natural and man-made disasters. Through this passion for protecting and rescuing others, she founded the not-for-profit organisation, Search Dogs Sydney in 2015. The organisation represents a dedicated team of qualified volunteers that train canines to aid the NSW police department in the search of lost or missing persons.
Unfortunately, hundreds of families across Australia have experienced the trauma of a missing family member or friend. Approximately 38,000 people go missing every year, and there are more than 2,600 long-term missing people. Lowering these statistics is what motivates Adele and her team to aid agencies in their search for lost or missing persons.
We spoke with Adele to find out more about her selfless mission searching for missing persons in the state. You can read her inspiring answers below:
LG: What prompted you to give back in your community?
I commenced my animal training passion in the 80's and then in 2011 transferred this knowledge into Search and Rescue training. This has been a passion of mine and I have travelled as far abroad as Qatar, to bring back and introduce the World’s Best Practice methods of Canine Search & Rescue to the state.
I remember an elderly lady went missing in the Blue Mountains in 2016. Although police are responsible for the SAR operation at the time, external NGO providers could not support.
Cases like this have inspired me to start Search Dogs Sydney nearly five years ago and have since trained a small, dedicated, specialist team of professional Canine Handlers to work with NSW authorities in these circumstances.
LG: Have you come up against any challenges?
The main challenge we face is the lack of recognition by NSW Police in being able to deploy us immediately when a person goes missing.
Although we are deployable under the SERM ACT, families of the missing must request our deployment. A fully trained search dog can cover more areas, with a higher degree of accuracy than around 40 volunteers.
The team of volunteers do not charge for our services, whereby we have felt the financial pinch during COVID-19 in terms of supplies. We rely on donations and the generosity of companies such as LG to cover the costs of providing this service and the upkeep of our dogs and handlers.
LG: What results have you achieved so far?
Just last week we were able to bring a missing 16-year-old autistic child home. He had been missing for 32 hours before SDS got the call. Thanks to our highly specialised training, our team was able to reunite the family in under three hours.
We also continue to search for the long term missing. Providing a search service to continue searching and support to those families that are suffering ambiguous loss.
What’s next for you and your initiative?
Currently we are developing national standards for canine search and rescue that we hope gets pushed through the NSW government officials. We are trialling the standards which will help Australia as a whole and will enable us to be activated as soon as a person goes missing in the state. We want to expand our team across the state and build further presence for such an important cause.
We would truly like to thank Adele and her team of volunteers for their dedication and contribution to locating missing persons across the state of New South Wales as part of Search Dogs Sydney. We wish her our best as she continues to make a difference in the lives of others.
If you know someone like Adele making a difference through their time, actions, talents and/or dedication to others, you can nominate them to be named an LG Local Legend by visiting www.lglifesgood.com.au/nominate-a-local-legend. We are looking forward to celebrating their achievements with you soon!.