At the present time, we have 6 mission ready K9 teams. As such, we are being highly selective and not actively looking to add additional resources to our roster. If, after reading all of the information below, you still believe that you are a great candidate, please contact us for consideration.
What does it mean to be a search dog handler?
WMSD welcomes new handlers who bring commitment, relevant skills, and physical capability. Currently, our handlers all have prior SAR, Law Enforcement, and/or working dog experience. Our search dogs are carefully selected for temperament, physical aptitude, and balanced working drives. K9 SAR requires thousands of hours of training, thousands of miles of driving, and a substantial financial investment to become a certified and deployable mission ready team.
It is important to understand that even after certification, maintenance training continues through the lifetime of the dog. Although we are all passionate about K9 SAR and enjoy working with and training our dogs, K9 SAR is neither a hobby nor a sport. K9 SAR provides a service which is sometimes a life and death mission, requiring commitment and professionalism by both handlers and dogs.
What Handler Skills are Required?
WMSD requires handlers to be current in CPR and have medical first responder skills such as Wilderness First Responder, EMT, etc. K9 handlers must be proficient in the use of GPS, map and compass, radio communications, wilderness survival skills, man-tracking awareness, lost person behavior, crime scene awareness, K9 First Aid, understanding of scent theory, weather behavior, and SAR theory. Physical capability to negotiate rugged terrain is also required of both handlers and dogs.
Can I train my pet dog for Search and Rescue?
Training of a successful search dog can start as early as 7 weeks old. Older dogs can also be trained for SAR work, however, WMSD prefers to start with puppies to allow for a longer working life. We recommend you attend several trainings to see what breed and working style dog you prefer. WMSD handlers can assist in selection and give recommendations on working line dogs/litters with proven success in SAR.
Although many breeds of dogs are capable of doing SAR work, most are from working line herding, sporting/retriever, or hound groups. Mixed breed dogs with sound temperaments and working drives can also excel at K9 SAR. SAR dogs must be social, environmentally stable, biddable, obedient, agile, physically fit, and have the natural desire to work. Your dog will be evaluated on their behavior and temperament to determine whether or not they are a good fit.
Can I volunteer with WMSD Without a dog?
Absolutely! We are always looking for volunteers to serve as subjects for our training searches. Contact us to hear about upcoming training opportunities that you could help with!
Special thanks to Great Basin K9 Search and Rescue
for helping us with the content for this page!