The use of dogs in search and rescue (SAR) is a valuable component in responding to law enforcement requests for missing persons. Dedicated handlers and hard working, well-trained dogs are required in efforts to be an effective portion of the SAR team.
There are many types of search and rescue dogs, including disaster dogs, wilderness airscent dogs, wilderness or urban tracking and trailing dogs, and human remains detection or cadaver dogs.
Disaster dogs detect live human scent during the aftermath of terrorist attacks, earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural and man-made disasters. In the USA, many disaster dogs are trained by their handlers to participate in the Federal Emergency Management Agency K9 program.
Wilderness airscent dogs detect live human scent that is borne on wind currents to help locate their victims. They typically work off-lead and cover large areas of terrain in search of human scent. The dogs alert their handler once they have located a victim and lead the handler back to the victim's location.
Wilderness or urban tracking/trailing dogs follow the trail where a specific person has walked. They usually work on-lead, keeping their noses low to the ground. These dogs require the use of a scent article from the person for which they are searching.
Human Remains Detection (HRD) or cadaver dogs are used to locate the remains of deceased victims. These dogs typically work off-lead and may be used to search for entire bodies or individual pieces of a body, including blood, bones, teeth, hair, and tissue. They work similarly to airscent dogs in that they use the air currents to locate scent. The dog will alert the handler once it has located human remains.
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