BUTTE — Two cadaver dogs will be used Friday to search for an Anaconda woman who has been missing since late December.
Wendy Kessinger, from the nonprofit Special Operations Inc., K-9 Forensics, of Edgewood, N.M., will fly into Butte on Thursday with her dogs, border collies named Jetta and Saber, and will be at the county landfill Friday to look for the remains of Tammy Salle, 41, she said.
Kessinger and her dogs most recently have been looking for 14-year-old Dylan Redwine, who was reported missing from his father’s home in Colorado on Nov. 19. She spent several weeks there, and on Sunday will return for two weeks. She leaves Butte on Saturday.
Kessinger, in a telephone interview with the Montana Standard on Wednesday, said her dogs will concentrate in the area of the Butte landfill where Anaconda trash is deposited, and where law enforcement most recently searched.
She said the dogs are capable of sniffing out human remains at a depth of 20 to 25 feet. They are also trained to discern the difference between human and animal remains, she said. They won’t be distracted by a deer or cat carcass, for example.
If the dogs indicate something humanlike, Kessinger said that’s called a solid alert. One dog will back up and start barking. The other dog will put her paw on the spot and look at Kessinger.
“In a solid alert, I get the other dog (to also sniff the area) … I always do a back up,” she said.
Kessinger, a retired firefighter, said dealing with difficult situations of looking for loved one’s remains isn’t easy.
“It’s bittersweet … you know when you actually give closure to mom or dad, that they can put this to rest, that’s the sweetness. The bitter part is when they see us coming …”
Anaconda police and other authorities spent about two weeks searching the landfill earlier this month, but found no clues. They went through about 400 tons of garbage. Authorities focused the search where Anaconda trash is dumped after an Anaconda sanitation worker reported dumping an unusually heavy trash bin.
After family first reported Salle missing, officers questioned her boyfriend, John Goldberg, who said they had a fight three days earlier. He told police she left in a 2009 Pontiac Grand Prix, which was later found on a frontage road south of Deer Lodge with a shredded tire.
Authorities found Goldberg, 38, dead on Dec. 29 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his pickup at a truck stop west of Missoula. His suicide note gave no indication of Salle’s whereabouts.
Kessinger said her dogs always fly in the passenger area of an airplane — not in kennels in the cargo area. Their presence is often a good thing on a flight.
“Dogs are so calming for people … people nervous on airplanes … they would love to sit next to us,” Kessinger said.