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Team ready for rescues with horses

POSTED: August 4, 2010 4:00 a.m.
Frank Reddy Dawson Community News/

After nearly a year of training, the North Georgia Mounted Search and Rescue is operational. Here, Karen Parks, public information officer, and Steve de Lyra, vice president, visit with Moon, one of the organization's four-legged members.

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A mounted search and rescue unit with local headquarters in Dawson County is awaiting its first mission.


After nearly a year of training, North Georgia Mounted Search and Rescue is operational and prepared to assist on horseback with missing people and horse cases, said Steve de Lyra, vice president.


The group can “self-initiate a search for missing horses,” de Lyra said, but a hunt for missing people is at the discretion of local emergency services and law enforcement.


“We put ourselves at their disposal,” de Lyra said.


In order to raise funds and awareness, the organization is holding a pancake breakfast Aug. 14 at Community & Southern Bank in downtown Dawsonville.


Begun last year by de Lyra and U.S. Marine Corps Col. Bob Eikenberry, the unit’s goal is to “have available an effective horseback search and rescue team to supplement law enforcement and public safety already in place.”


De Lyra said the group “could put six teams out right now easily, maybe more.”


Each team of rescuers consists of one horse and at least three people. Most members are trained in medical techniques and first aid.


Certain terrain in north Georgia is better suited for a mounted search and rescue team, said public information officer Karen Parks.


“There are places, for instance, in Dawson Forest that people can’t get to unless they have a horse,” Parks said. “That’s one of the reasons we’re an asset to this community.”


Although the team’s headquarters is in Dawson County, its coverage area extends to surrounding counties.


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