Stories

Working Dog Spotlight: Search & Rescue Dogs

October 28, 2019

Among our familial domesticated pets are dogs in the working group. These dogs are usually found in positions beside police officers, assisting vision impaired persons, and even responsible for crucial aid during rescue missions.

Among the loyal working dogs, is today’s dog spotlight: the search and rescue dog.

What are search and rescue (SAR) dogs?

Search and rescue dogs are a type of working dog that are trained to provide aid to service workers and civilians during human disaster. For example, in the event that someone is trapped or buried beneath rubble, a SAR dog will sniff out their scent, and alert emergency technicians where to look to find people in danger.

Animal Planet describes some of the best search and rescue dogs as “robust, intelligent, and headstrong”. Different breeds may be better suited for different tasks. The Siberian Huskies, for example, have historically been used as endurance sled dogs. AKC describes their build as light-footed, graceful, with a balanced body for speed and power—skills that align with their occupation.

What makes an SAR dog?

Mission-ready SAR dogs are certified through rigorous training and testing. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a certification process for tasks concerning urban rescue. Other SAR certification programs can be found through the American Rescue Dog Association, National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR), as well as other programs depending on location.

Search and rescue dog training is dependent on a dog’s area of specialty. Generally, SAR dogs are trained to focus on scent to locate something or someone, take their handler to the spot where they’ve found something, or stay by the side of someone in danger until they can be helped by another human.

Search dogs we can’t forget

American Kennel Club details the legacy of SAR dogs who recovered the bodies of firefighters during 9/11. They add, “sniffer dogs had been around for decades, but the public had little understanding of what they could do. Images of these dogs working tirelessly, doing whatever was needed to get the job done, captured hearts and minds all over the world.”

Working dogs save the day

Search and rescue dogs are just one subset of working dogs. Among these hard workers are service, therapy, and emotional support dogs—all of which are employed to assist people.

SAR dogs are a remarkable addition to emergency task forces. Be it a natural disaster or an attack on our safety, SAR dogs have been there to keep us safe. Needless to say, we’re lucky for SAR dogs and all that they do to keep us safe.


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Take a look at our blog for more dog spotlights, like this post on How to Communicate with Your Dog Using Dog Body Language.

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