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Laura Marquez, May 2021 Valley's First Responder

Laura Marquez is a certified cadaver and K-9 Search & Rescue for SouthEastern Search Dogs.

MINOR HILL, Tenn. — It takes a dedicated search and rescue team to find someone missing. Some use their K-9s to lead the way. This is the mission for one retired deputy and lung cancer survivor based in Tennessee.

Meet K-9 SouthEastern Search Dogs K-9 Handler, Laura Marquez!

"We're ready, anytime they call us...I grab one of my puppies, and off we come," says Marquez. 

Marquez, 73, and her pups "Patches" and "Sadie" have been a part of the search and rescue team for ten years.

She was a deputy sheriff from San Bernadino County, California for thirteen years before retiring and moving to Tennessee.

"I've been donating blood, my whole life. Started with the Sheriff's Department, and they got to where they wouldn't take my blood anymore. It was too anemic. So I was floundering, trying to find something to do with myself," says Marquez.

Then, she ran into SouthEastern Search Dogs based in Prospect.

Marquez says she adopted Sadie after a friend found her wounded. Sadie herself, would be rescued.

"She had been hit by a car and shot. So somebody was chasing her off of their property and shot her in the hip with a .22 and she had road rage from being hit by a car," says Marquez.

This team trains their dogs to detect the faintest of scents during all kinds of weather. Kids are even part of the training!

"I hide and let the dogs find me," says eight-year-old SouthEastern Search Dogs Training Victim, Jeremiah Johncurl.

However, the mission can be challenging.

"My toughest situations were looking for someone's lost love; and if it was a child, Oh my God, the heart dropped...these kids gave their parents when they went missing, and so it was finding them," says Marquez.

Members of the team say they work with other search and rescue teams. The overall goal, to bring the missing home.

"It's awesome. It's like a family when we get together. It's like a family with different parents. And the person that's lost, it's a win for us all because they've come home to their family," says SouthEastern Search Dogs K-9 Handler, Cheryl Albury.

Marquez says she will continue to give, with her pups by her side. "I have always been community minded, always," says Marquez.

Thank you, Laura! Do you know someone who could be the next Valley's First Responder?

Nominate them! 

To do that go to the Valley's First Responder tab at the top of the page.