"So Others May Live..."

K-9 SAR provides Air Scent Dog Teams to assist with lost person searches in wilderness and urban interface environments. We follow criteria equivalent to FEMA Type II Wilderness Air Scent Team capabilities. The team can be self-sustaining for 48 hours in all weather conditions and low angle wilderness terrain or larger areas of 120 acres or more. Our K-9 search team can provide shoreline search assistance for lost persons involved in swift water incidents. We can also provide assistance with searching in a disaster environment, such as the outlying areas of a tornado zone.

To learn more about our team read: A Year in Review

Our K-9 Partners Role:

Dog teams have a very special role in the world of search and rescue. The dogs’ ultra-sensitive hearing, night vision, endurance and keen sense of smell have continually proven to be invaluable in the effort to locate missing persons.

Because of their extraordinary abilities, dogs are often able to reduce the time spent searching, thereby increasing the chances that the missing persons will be found alive. A search dog’s success stems from the fact that every human being has a smell—not detectable by human beings, but discernible by animals—caused by the constant stream of skin rafts and bacteria shedding from the human body. How the scent is “picked up” by the dogs, depends upon the training they have had in trailing or air scenting techniques. In both cases, the search dogs are able to locate missing persons even if they are hidden from view. Experts estimate that a single dog team can be as effective as 20 to 30 trained human searchers in locating a missing person in a given period of time.

Types of Search Dogs:

The Air Scent dog is probably the most frequently encountered SAR dog. Every human releases microscopic scent particles called "rafts" into the air. The dog’s sense of smell is about 40 times more sensitive than a human’s. The rafts form a scent cone that the dog can follow, and ultimately find the missing person.

  • Did you know an >Avalanche Rescue dog can find a person buried under 15 feet of snow? Some dogs have a better sense of smell than others, which is why Bloodhounds are used frequently for tracking (or trailing). They can pick up a scent weeks old, even if other breeds can’t.
Some dogs are trained to search, while others will follow a track of a particular person.  There are different training techniques depending on the job you want your dog to do. On a call where a dead body may be the outcome, a Cadaver dog may be used. Search and Rescue dogs find living people. A cadaver or HRD (Human Remains Detection) K9 will pick up the scent of decomposing tissue as it rises to the surface of the ground. Sometimes the victim is in a body of water, and can’t be seen. A Water Search dog would be most suitable for this task. The dog will be able to pick up the victim’s scent as it rises to the top of the water, and is dispersed by the air above. Any dog taught to alert it’s handler of human scent can learn water search discipline. (see Training a Water Search Dog) You are probably very familiar with the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) dog. Well known for their roll in searching ground zero, USAR dogs can work under very dangerous conditions and the FEMA certification standards are very hard to meet. If you’ve ever flown out of an airport, you may have come across a Bomb or Narcotics detector dog. These are becoming more popular with Homeland Security concerns. Some dogs are taught to find drugs like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines. Bomb dogs can find TNT, C-4, Water Gel, Detonator Cord, Date Sheet, Nitro Dynamite, Sodium Nitrate, Potassium Chlorate, Ammonia Dynamite, just to name a few. One more type of search dog that doesn’t get a lot of recognition is the Arson detection dog. Maybe because there are fewer detection dogs trained in arson, and even fewer handlers. These dogs can make or break an investigation if they can confirm the use of an accelerant in a fire. Arson dogs can be a valuable resource, and save time in finding the the arsonist.

If you are interested in joining our team as either a K-9 Handler or Search Team Member, contact us immediately!


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