Search & Rescue


Why Search & Rescue dogs...

Search & Rescue (SAR) dogs can be a huge asset when it comes to rescue or recovery whether the missing person is a child, an elderly adult with Alzheimers, or an overdue hiker or hunter in a wilderness area. They can locate a victim trapped in an avalanche or structural collapse, or be instrumental in locating human remains, such as a drowning victim under water or even remains after a fire.

What SAR teams do...

There are many different rescue organizations from your local County Sheriff's Office to State or National organizations such as FEMA. The rules and regulations will vary but generally speaking, most will train SAR teams in one of two areas; area searches or trailing. Area search dogs are trained to find any human scent in the area by working off-leash and covering large areas. Trailing dogs are similar to tracking dogs except rather than track via footstep tracking, they are trained to follow the missing person's scent which may include air scenting or scent left on vegetation. They typically trail on long leashes and may be called upon to work trails that are hours or even days old.

Specialized Areas...

Once a SAR team has received certification in either trailing or area searches, they may further their skills and certify in a number of specialty areas. Cadaver dogs are trained to locate human remains and will alert to decomposed tissue as well as blood or bones. Water search dogs are trained to alert to human remains where the scent from decomposition emanates from under the water. Avalanche dogs are trained to locate avalanche victims buried in snow. Disaster dogs are trained to locate victims of many natural disasters that may be buried in rubble from a collapsed buildings. 



Training of a SAR handler...

Most SAR handlers are required to have at least a year's training before going out on calls. Many have ten or more years of SAR experience. Handlers are required to continue updating their skills and many put in as much as 100 hours a month in training. While minimal requirements vary from one organization to the next, most include specialized training in some, if not all, of the following areas:

  • Emergency Medical Responder

  • CPR

  • Map, compass and GPS navigation

  • Survival skills

  • Radio communications

  • Helicopter operations

  • Crime scene preservation

  • Scent movement

  • Mantracking

  • Incident Command System 

  • Low-angle rescue and rope skills 

  • Litter/patient transport                                      

Costs related to SAR work...

The involved costs can indeed be more than many would care to incur. In most cases, the SAR teams are made up of volunteers, none of whom are paid. SAR handlers are required to pay for all their own equipment as well as their own fuel. The travel expenses in fuel to both trainings and searches can be substantial. You will be required to purchase your own backpacking gear and be equipped to be self-sufficient in the field for up to 3 days at a time.

All photos on this page are of the phenomenal young Beauceron,


(littermate to our own CH SAYKO WARRIOR SOUL)

courtesy of his owner, Marcela Somrova.



Bred by Laila Ooms and owned by Marcela Somrova

Training of a SAR dog...

Temperament is crucial in a SAR dog resulting in extensive testing. The dogs must be extremely sound in temperament and both socially and environmentally stable. They will find themselves in a wide variety of situations and must perform in any environment at hand. Extensive time and training are required in environmental stability, socializing, agility, obedience and helicopter transport. Once training has been acquired, the team must pass a variety of exams before becoming certified as a SAR team. Many of these searches are timed and must be completed within that timed framework. Typically, a trailing test may be 1-1.5 miles long and anywhere from 18-24 hours old. The dog must locate the person within 4 hours. For the area search, it is not uncommon to have to search 100 acres and locate up to 3 well-hidden "victims" within 4 hours. It can take up to two years to become SAR certified and organizations require re-certification every 2 years.