Sheriffs' departments help provide training, certifications, and a legal umbrella for volunteer dog-teams. In the event of a manhunt, the sheriff will call upon and coordinate teams as needed. Safety and liability concerns should be on your mind before you volunteer for search and rescue (SAR) work. Sometimes the lost people do not want to be found, terrain and wilderness hazards can be very dangerous, and searches may be in areas with illegal activity or hunting.

This activity requires training with multiple helpers many times a month and traveling considerable distances to participate in real searches. Handlers need to be very fit and have the skills necessary to coordinate with other searchers by radio and navigate by GPS. SAR dogs must have very stable temperaments due to the stresses they are put under. SAR does not top the list of cheap, safe, or easy activities to do with your dog; however, it may well be one of the most deeply rewarding, necessary, and respected.

Wilderness and avalanche SAR dogs are generally trained to range off-leash away from the handler over a large amount of territory, searching for any human scent or article, only returning to the handler to lead them to a find. To maintain intense, independent hunting activity for hours on end, dogs need to be highly motivated, confident, and proofed against chasing wildlife.

"Trailing" and the very similar "tracking" are following-footsteps types of searching, used when a portion of a missing person's trail is known. It's the best option for urban searching and is done on-leash with a tracking harness. Trailing and tracking certifications are available from several associations. It is a component of IPO as well (see Protection).
To learn more about SAR dog-teams in Shasta and surrounding counties, contact Shasta County K9 Search & Rescue


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