XENIA, Ohio (WDTN) — The death toll continues to climb in Maui as search and rescue teams continue to find bodies throughout the debris with the help of search and rescue.

Right here in the Miami Valley, search and rescue advanced training is happening to provide additional training to those K-9s.

Nearly 2,500 search and rescue K-9s used to help with fires, water searches and finding human remains are part of this program.

“Whether they are submerged in the water, such as a drowning or an accident or on the land,” Deana Hudgins, owner of the Center for Forensic Training and Education, said. “Everything from what you’re seeing the dogs do in Maui to criminal cases, to something like an elderly person that would walk away and perish.”

Military, law enforcement and firefighters have all been using these search and rescue K-9s in heavy rotation, and the use of these K-9s requires advanced training. That’s happening this week in Xenia with the help of Spike’s K9 Fund and the Center for Forensic Training Education.

In this advanced training, actual human remains are used so that the dogs will be able to detect them in case of a rescue.

“The only way to do that is to have a partnership, to be able to be able to expose them to the odors that they’re truly looking for,” Hudgins said. “There is no synthetic odor that mimics it. There are well over 400 compounds involved in human decomposition, and nothing that we’ve been able to create in a lab mimics that to this point.”

This advanced training draws handlers from across the nation and overseas. They’ll spend the first two days doing a land recovery, and the second two days will train the dogs to conduct a water rescue.

Jimmy Hatch, the founder of Spike’s K9 Fund is a retired Navy seal, and during his time serving his country, he says these dogs saved his life, which is one reason he started the nonprofit.

Though it’s not an easy task to provide help for so many K-9s, he says the work changes lives.

“It’s what’s interesting about it is there are other organizations like ours, but they’re not nearly as comprehensive,” Hatch said. “So, I think my background plays a big role in how we go about our business. We’re pretty aggressive, and we bite off big chunks, and we want to help as many dogs as we can as soon as we can. You know, the dogs are volunteers, and we want to give them everything they need to be successful and safe.”

More information about Spike’s K9 Fund can be found online here.