Exactly one year ago, Christos Pittas disappeared near the Dinner Plain village in Victoria, where he and his wife Tess were enjoying a holiday.
According to The Herald Sun, after borrowing his wife’s shoes because his were damaged, Mr Pittas left a sudoku unfinished and went for his usual walk. Tess never saw him again.
A year on, she is upset about the shortcomings of the police search for him. Less than 40 hours after Mr Pittas went missing, Tess and other family members asked police about using dogs to pick up his scent before it was too late. The response was that such dogs were available in New South Wales — but not in Victoria.
The family then learned that the area was too rough for police dogs and handlers, so no dogs would be used at all. It appears the Victoria Police policy was dictated by its dog squad, which uses general-purpose police dogs, trained for close-range work in suburban areas.
The Herald Sun reports that these dogs give the police more teeth in the face of aggression, but not elite tracking ability. No one can recall the last time a Victoria Police dog found a missing person in a wilderness area.
The reports suggests that tracking lost people (or locating their bodies) are specialist canine tasks that Australian police have largely ignored despite the country’s vast areas of bush, mountains and desert.
In the Pittas case, the search was called off after one week, as it became evident that the search team was attempting to locate a body in harsh conditions.
The family was informed that the quest to find his remains would resume in the spring. However, that assurance, if it was one, was not fulfilled.
Tess told The Herald Sun the supposed “search” eventually took place over just two days in April, almost a year after her husband went missing. She remains grateful for the efforts of volunteer searches – bush walkers and State Emergency Service.
Source: The Herald Sun