Jesse, a German Shepherd search and rescue dog owned by Riverhead resident Susan Condreras, recently won an Award for Canine Excellence in an annual competition sponsored by the American Kennel Club.According to an AKC release, Jesse was one of five recipients of the award.
She was recognized for her work over the past five years to help locate missing individuals.
Even after a recent severe injury suffered on a rescue operation, and a difficult rehabilitation, on her first trip back she was able to locate a hunter alive in the swamps of New Jersey, the AKC statement said.
Jesse is a dual-certified National Association for Search and Rescue search dog for both live area search and human remains detection, as well as a Therapy Dog International Remarkable Volunteer Achievement dog, with over 250 visits to patients in hospitals, nursing homes and doctors' offices.
Jesse and Condreras respond to locations along the East Coast to help families in need when a loved one goes missing, AKC representatives said.
Over the past five years, Jesse has been deployed on multiple searches in "arduous terrain," with her safety threatened by snakes, ticks, steep cliffs, swamps, extreme weather conditions, fox, bear, and gunshots, according to the AKC.
During the recent training session when she was injured, Jesse came out of the woods limping badly and yelping. She was diagnosed with two herniated discs in her spine. After a long rehab, including a six-month period of acupuncture, physical therapy, and acupressure, Jesse was back to work.
"Many people's lives are changed forever when a loved one goes missing, and it is the work of dogs like Jesse that help to bring closure and peace to those affected," a statement from the AKC read.
Jesse will receive $1,000, to be awarded to a pet-related charity of her owner’s choice, and an engraved sterling silver medallion presented at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in Orlando, Florida on December 14.