A MOUNTAIN rescue volunteer and his dog have been enlisted to help search for missing Pamela Jackson.
Tony High and dog Isla were asked by police to take part in the search for the missing grandmother, who is now feared dead.
Tony, 39, from Penshaw, is one of only a handful of people in the region qualified to take part in such searches involving rescue dogs.
The dad-of-four and his Border Collie joined police in Chester-le-Street in the search for the 55-year-old who was last seen on March 2.
Detectives trying to find the missing grandmother have now admitted there is little chance she is still alive, and are now searching for a body.
Her partner Adrian Muir, 50, of Halifax, has appeared at court charged with her murder and been remanded in custody.
Tony said: “Unfortunately, we have not yet had any success, but the search is ongoing.”
This is not the first high-profile case Tony and four-year-old Isla have taken part in.
Last year, the pair worked with teams searching for April Jones. The five-year-old went missing from her home in Machynlleth, mid Wales, six months ago and has not been seen since.
Tony and Isla, who are part of Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team, also helped in snow rescue operations over the winter, as well as searches for missing people across the North East.
Tony said: “We are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Dogs like Isla are a massively important part of the team, one dog can do the work of 100 people.”
The pair train together every week in Stanhope and, once a month, go to more remote parts of the country for various training exercises.
“The dogs are trained to find human air scents,” said Tony. “They go off to search for a body and when they find it they come back to the handler to show them where it’s at. It could be a quarter of a mile away.
“That’s what makes them so special.”
It takes a minimum of two years for a likely canine to make the grade with the Search and Rescue Dogs Association (SARDA) and be officially classified as an operational search dog.