The SAR K-9 Team specializes in the location of missing and lost persons, human remains detection and evidence detection for investigations. They train and operate in all weather conditions throughout the year.
K-9 Team members train three times each week, averaging 10 hours per week. In addition to the training sessions, all members are required to attend the monthly SAR K-9 Team meeting.
Types of SAR K-9s
• Area Search Dog: A dog that can search for human scent in within a defined area of varied terrain. The CCSSAR K-9 team currently has three NASAR K-9 SARTECH Area I area search dogs.
• Tracking Dog: A dog that can follow an assigned human scent trail, moving towards the freshest scent. The dog works with its nose close to the ground and within 1 or 2 feet of the target’s track. Our Team currently has one tracking dog.
• Trailing Dog: A dog that can follow an assigned human scent trail, moving towards the freshest scent. The dog works with its nose close to the ground, ranging about a target’s trail in proportion to the rafts of scent as it moves towards the freshest scent. Our team currently has one NASAR K-9 SARTECH Trailing I search dog.
• Human Remains Detection Dog: A dog that can detect human remains. Our team currently has three NASAR K-9 SARTECH HRD-Land Type III search dogs.
• Water Search Dog: A dog that can search for human scent in and along bodies of water.
• Disaster/Collapsed Structure Search Dog: A dog that can search for human scent in failed manmade structures and natural debris fields.
• Avalanche Search Dog: A K-9 that can search for human scent in avalanche debris fields.
All SAR K-9 Team candidates must first be accepted into the annual Coconino County Search and Rescue Basic SAR Academy. In addition, handlers must:
• be able to participate in all training sessions and team meetings;
• understand and follow all department protocols in regard to crime scene/evidence preservation;
• understand, follow and be able to verbally direct others on the proper collection and preservation of scent articles to be utilized by tracking/trailing dogs;
• maintain control of their K-9 at all times;
• be able to accurately interpret the body language, alerts and trained final responses of their K-9 partner;
• maintain current and accurate training records and present them to the Training Coordinator when requested;
• maintain current veterinarian records for their K-9 partner;
• be in good physical condition and be able to carry a full pack (including items for the K-9) on uneven terrain for extended periods of time; and
• handle scent sources for human remains detection and be able to verbally direct others on the proper handling of scent sources.
• be in excellent physical condition;
• be physically sound;
• be well socialized;
• demonstrate they are trainable in search work by passing a SAR suitability evaluation;
• have current vaccinations and rabies immunization;
• pass K-9 Good Citizen Requirements prior to being mission ready;
• and cannot demonstrate aggressive behavior towards humans or other K-9s.
Mission Ready SAR K-9 Team
A SAR K-9 team certification is available but must be followed up within one year with a national certification through NASAR. Both the handler and K-9 must complete the NASAR Certification in their specific discipline field. A recertification must be obtained every two years.
Members need to obtain, at their own expense, the necessary equipment for SAR missions and the special gear and equipment for their K-9 partner. A list of the necessary equipment can be obtained from the K9 team training coordinator(s).
SAR K-9 Team Deployment
Deployment of mission-ready SAR K-9 teams is done by the Search and Rescue Coordinator only. Both departmental and personal vehicles are utilized when SAR K-9 teams are deployed. The teams must be prepared to sustain themselves (both human and K-9) as well as the lost person for a 24-hour period with the equipment they normally carry. Not all missions require the deployment of a SAR K-9 team.