For Immediate Release
PR #:2000019
Date Issued:Feb 16, 2020 - 11:35am

Sheriff's Office pays tribute to search dog's extraordinary career

CONTACT:Bob Harmon
Washoe County Sheriff's Office
Office 775-785-6235
Cell 775-722-5517

Her name is “Banshee.” Her career as a search dog for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office was phenomenal. Her commitment to serve our community worthy of praise.

Banshee passed away peacefully in January, just before her 14th birthday. She had been retired from Search and Rescue for several years after a decade of service defined by her tenacity, ability to work under extreme conditions, and an unprecedented drive.  

“Search dogs are the unseen heroes of countless law enforcement investigations and Search and Rescue missions,” Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam said. “The nature of their assignments often takes them out of the public spotlight even though their unique sensory skill and attention to detail are essential to our work. Banshee was an important part of our Sheriff’s Office family and the community should know her story.”  

Banshee was born on January 31, 2006 in Dublin, California. Dr. Mary Cablk, a volunteer member of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Search and Recovery K9 Unit, knew Banshee had the makings of a first-rate search dog, even as a puppy, and brought her home to Reno. At the age of 13 months, Banshee and Mary certified together and their partnership became official.

The Banshee/Mary partnership included hundreds of missions throughout the western United States. The two also traveled to many diverse locations, places like Florida and Costa Rica, for more intense training in specific types of searches.

“The key to Banshee’s success was her drive,” Mary said. “Searching for a needle-in-a-haystack is tiring work but Banshee wouldn’t give up. She would work for long periods of time without losing her focus. She would find specific and important clues that human searchers simply could not find.”

There is not enough room to list all of Banshee’s missions. Highlights of her extraordinary decade-long career include:  

  • Part of recovery efforts for Steve Fossett in 2007.
  • Spent four days searching through mud and water following the horrific 2014 mudslide in Oso, Washington. She is credited with finding three of the 42 victims.
  • Recognized by the U.S. Navy for search efforts following the crash of a Marine Corps F-18/C at the Fallon Naval Air Station in 2014.
  • Searched an area of Zion National Park in 2012 as part of ongoing efforts to locate two boys lost in a flash flood in 1961.
  • Recognized by the City of Elk Grove, California, also in 2012, for locating a young drowning victim in more than 40 feet of water.
  • First search and recovery dog certified by Nevada POST for Human Remains Detection

“So many memories, so many places. It didn’t matter how bad the condition were or if we headed for mountains, deserts, or open water, Banshee would be ready and eager to respond,” Mary said. “She understood what it meant to serve her community and was always there for us.”

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The Washoe County Sheriff's Office is dedicated to preserving a safe and secure community with professionalism, respect, integrity and the highest commitment to equality. Sheriff Darin Balaam is the 27th person elected to serve as the Sheriff of Washoe County since the Office was created in 1861. The Washoe County Sheriff's Office strives to ensure public safety by building trust and creating partnerships within the diverse communities in which we serve. We will promote the dignity of all people supported by our words and actions through open communication while fostering an environment of professionalism, integrity and mutual respect.

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