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MABE’s Johnson Helps with Florida Hurricane Recovery

Photo of Johnson and search dog Crush

Johnson and Crush

Professor Jackie Johnson, who serves MABE at the UT Space Institute, recently returned from Mexico Beach, Florida, where she spent 11 days helping search and rescue efforts in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

Michael battered Florida with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour in early October, with Mexico Beach seeing some of the worst destruction.

Johnson was there with her dogs Gizmo and Crush to help find possible survivors trapped in the wreckage or bodies of those killed by the storm.

Both search dogs are certified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with Gizmo being a live find dog and Crush being a cadaver dog.

Gizmo is trained to help find people trapped by debris that rescuers can’t see or hear, while Crush is trained to follow the scent of human remains to find victims.

There are fewer than 400 dog/handler teams in the country that are FEMA certified, and Johnson’s dog Crush was certified just four days before they were deployed to Florida.

Johnson said she 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.



Meghan Morris (931-393-7213,