Search and rescue is serious business, and should not be considered as a hobby or just a fun thing to do with your dog. The work is grueling at times and often unrewarding. It takes a tremendous amount of dedication and training to develop the skills necessary to do our job effectively and professionally. All members are trained in search dog handling, first aid and CPR, search theory, lost person behavior, map and compass navigation, GPS and wind meter use, terrain evaluation, radio communication and wilderness survival. Members are on call 24 hours a day and can respond to an emergency in a matter of hours.
Many breeds and mixes are suitable for training as a search dog. Hunting dogs, herding and working breeds already possess the necessary “hunt drive”. The appropriate dog has to possess the determination and drive to want to work for you. They have to be evenly tempered and non-aggressive to people and other animals. The dog must be able to operate effectively around other SAR resources. Small dogs less than 40 pounds and giant breeds over 120 pounds are not suitable for search work. Search work is very physically demanding and requires an athletic and conditioned dog to work in all kinds of weather and territory.
(Your local AKC All Breed Kennel Club will be able to help you contact a reputable breeder. In Columbus, Georgia contact “Columbus Kennel Club”.) 706-561-2500
On an average, it takes up to two years to train a search dog from an eight-week-old puppy to a mission ready dog. Older dogs can be trained, but training is more difficult and time consuming. Working dogs usually face retirement at nine years of age.
Consider the fact that the dog is a tool to help save the life of a missing person. We want to use the best tool possible. Yes, the search dog is also your pet, but you also have to be realistic and recognize the fact that sometimes the dog is not suited for this type of work.
How do SAR Dogs work? All humans, alive or dead, constantly emit microscopic particles bearing human scent. Millions of these are airborne and are carried by the wind for considerable distances. Many air scenting dogs are also cross trained in body recovery…….. Human Remains Detection Dogs are trained to detect and find the odor of human remains…. Air scent dogs range well away from their handlers and can cover huge areas in a much shorter time span than a typical man tracking search party. Using air scenting dogs has a much higher probability of detection rate than using a regular search party. The dog is not restricted to the missing person’s track and can search long after the track is obliterated. Many air scenting search dogs are also trained in body recovery, and trailing/scent discrimination.
HUMAN REMAINS (CADAVER) DETECTION DOGS are trained to detect and find the scent of human remains. Cadaver dogs are trained to find decomposing, skeletal, submerged, buried and/or scattered human remains in varied locations such as water, collapsed structures and wilderness areas. They are used for forensic detection such as finding trace evidence of blood, bone fragments, charred tissue and teeth in homicide situations.
TRAILING/TRACKING SEARCH DOGS are mostly scent specific, meaning they are looking for a specific person’s scent trail. They will follow one
person’s trail and totally ignore other individual’s trail having been at the site before. The dog is presented with an article of clothing or anything the missing person had touched. The dog then will try to find the one scent in the area and follow it. The trails can be up to several days old and on varied surfaces such as dirt or on streets.
ARTICLE / EVIDENCE TRAINED DOGS work in a specific area locating evidence articles such as weapons, clothing, bullets, or anything the missing person or criminal may have discarded. Typically these dogs are trained police dogs used to secure crime scene evidence.
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