The Santa Barbara County Fire Department on Monday announced the death of live scent search dog Riley, who was part of the Montecito debris flow rescue team.
Riley paired up with the department’s Capt. Eric Gray on Oct. 15, 2009. The duo trained and passed their FEMA certification seven months later, starting nearly a decade of service together.
Extensive training is required to maintain the precision needed for disaster search. Capt. Gray and Riley trained daily and traveled a minimum of twice a week for training with California Task Force 2 teammates, based in Los Angeles.
Their first disaster showed Riley’s dedication. On Aug. 24, 2010, a semi-truck of gravel crashed into a Santa Barbara home.
Riley tirelessly searched, ensuring there were no victims left.
He and Capt. Gray were deployed to Japan March 10, 2011, following a traumatic earthquake and tsunami, to find victims.
They also assisted search efforts after the Nepal earthquake in 2015. The team worked for over a week, locating victims among rubble.
Riley and Capt. Gray searched for victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017.
But Riley’s final high-profile deployment was the search and rescue after the Montecito debris flow on Jan. 9, 2018.
Riley enjoyed his last two years with Capt. Gray and his family.
The Santa Barbara County Fire Department sends its condolences and appreciation to Capt. Gray as well as the Search Dog Foundation, Riley’s initial trainer who connected him with Capt. Gray.