Little dog helps make big impact with rescue workers in Joplin, MO

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Missouri leaders say everyone reported missing since the massive tornado in Joplin on May 22 are now accounted for. The death toll is at least 134, but nearly 270 people had been listed as "unaccounted for" after the tornado. We learned that a rescue team from Kentuckiana helped confirm those numbers.

Sometimes, it's amazing how something so small, can mean so much, to so many. Scout, a Parson Russell Terrier commonly used in England K-9 Search and Rescue, was with her handler Jennifer Jordan Hall at a training session in Arkansas. The two were with some Missouri emergency workers when they received the devastating news of the Joplin tornado.

"They were driving back when the tornado hit," said Jordan Hall about the Missouri team.

So Jordan Hall and Scout went straight to Joplin to help their new friends look for the missing.

"Without the dogs, it's such massive destruction they wouldn't even know where to begin to look for people," Jordan Hall said.

Countless families in Joplin knew their loved ones were gone, but they waited to find their remains for a proper goodbye. That's where Scout came in. As the smallest K-9 working in Joplin, Scout was able to get to some places other dogs couldn't. The challenge was intense for the searchers with nail and glass filled debris that in some cases were 15 feet high.

"There was a car in the middle of a church and we didn't even know it because that's how much stuff there was," Jordan Hall remembered.

From that church to a local school, Scout and Jordan Hall soon became overwhelmed by the emotion of what a 200-mile-per-hour wind could do.

"The problem is the death scent was everywhere," said Jordan Hall. "It was horrible because there were neighbors and everybody was lined up watching."

As difficult as it was, the presence of the human spirit, like neighbor helping neighbor, and the appreciation of the victim's families for a little dog is something Jordon Hall will never forget.

"We were able to use her gifts and help," she said, "I was just grateful for that."

Jordan Hall, an immigration attorney in Louisville, works search and rescue for free whenever her dogs are needed. She says for many of the tornado victims, just taking a minute away from the devastation and play with a little dog like Scout seemed to help them emotionally.

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