and rescue dogs gain much notoriety when a disaster strikes and their abilities
to find injured and missing people are needed. Yet many of us are unaware
of how many critical operations are conducted with search dogs on a regular
basis. Typically a team composed of a handler and dog train for specific
types of search and rescue missions, such as mountain, water, or urban
rescues. Search dogs assist in a variety of situations such as finding
elderly or mentally challenged people that wander away from their home
or care facility. Similarly children that become lost may be found by a
search dog. Those trained for urban search and rescue find people in jeopardy
due to man-made or natural disasters in a populated environment. A number
of outdoor situations such as avalanches, rock/mudslide, drowning, earthquakes,
and lost or injured hunters are greatly assisted by search and rescue dogs.
Also, dogs often help police find either people or evidence of a crime.
Cadaver dogs are needed in finding the dead, providing an unfortunate yet
extremely important service.
A dog’s keen instincts make them particularly well suited for these
searches. The ability not only to smell a person, but also to smell that
person’s trail makes them an exceptional as well as unique resource
in searches. This is an ability that has not been replicated by human or
machine. Yet it is not every dog that makes a good searcher. A dog’s
attitude is as important as its tracking ability. The dog must be an eager
searcher, able to work well under difficult circumstances, and take commands
from their handler. These teams train and become certified for search and
rescue missions. There is a commitment of time and money from handlers.
To learn more about search and rescue dogs or how to help handlers and
search organizations keep this vital service available check out the following
search and rescue dog websites.
Search Dog Foundation
National Association for Search and Rescue