During a search-and-rescue operation in November by the Illinois State Police and Canine Unit, a dog disappeared. The dog had gotten his 20-foot leash tangled in brush and when the handler got him untangled, the dog—being a dog—was off chasing a deer and was not seen again.
As a result, today 33 Illinois State Police dogs are wearing high-tech collars, according to Sgt. David Yount, Commander of the Canine Unit.
Although the collars are meant to track lost dogs and injured handlers, they soon found that the system has had unexpected benefits.
They were searching for a missing Alzheimer’s patient in need of immediate medical attention. They found that the new GPS collars showed them the topical layout of the land, allowing them to navigate more quickly and efficiently to locate missing persons.
According to Yount:
"It's a remote system that runs off of global positioning satellites. We put it on a harness system, and it's just a small pouch. It's user friendly; (the trooper) doesn't have to do anything other than push a button to activate. The dogs don't even know it's on there. They wear the harnesses anyway, so this just pops right on the top of the harness."
It cost $5,000 to outfit the entire unit. The average cost of a fully trained working dog ranges from $5000-$8000. The money was raised by a group called Friends of Canines.
From The Detroit News