Capabilities of the Search and Rescue Dog


Search dogs are typically trained to be proficient in at least one of the areas listed below. Some groups and agencies often train their dogs to do more than one specialty due to limited resources such as time or money. GARDA focuses on the skills of the individual dog in only one specialty, to insure that the dog and handler are the very best at their particular mode of operation. The Georgia Rescue Dog Association specializes in dogs for human remains detection, wilderness area search, and trailing operations only. The information below is a general overview of GARDA's search dogs and how we use them in the field.


Human Remains Detection: Dogs in this category are trained to detect and find the scent of human remains. Cadaver dogs can find buried, submerged or fragmented human remains in all sorts of terrain. Lakes, swamps, collapsed structures and wilderness areas are no problem for the appropriately trained dog. Cadaver dogs can be used to find trace evidence and to search specific areas where human remains are suspected. All well trained dogs in this category can detect and alert the handler to a huge spectrum of human tissues including but not limited to; bone, bone fragments, teeth, blood, burnt and charred tissues and items that have previously been in contact with any of the above.


Wilderness Area Search: Air Scent dogs are trained to detect and follow the human scent to it's source. Dogs of this category typically do not use scent discrimination. In operation, a dog and it's handler will work the prevailing wind conditions of a given area to cover it completely while looking for the missing person or persons. Air scent dogs range well away from their handlers and can cover huge areas in much less time than a typical search party. Area search dogs also have a higher probability of detection than search teams not utilizing dogs; making them an ideal tool for searching large areas quickly. Dogs in this category must also be able to find victims who are living or deceased.


Trailing Search: Dogs in this category are trained specifically to follow the scent trail left on the ground by a subject. Trailing dogs can scent discriminate, and will only follow the scent of the subject in question while ignoring other individuals in the area. Trailing dogs use a scent article such as an article of clothing to follow where the missing person walked to allow searchers to find clues and deploy other resources in the direction the missing person traveled such area search dogs. Well trained dogs in this specialty can follow trails that were left by the victim several days prior to the search beginning with amazing accuracy.


Evidence/Article Search: Dogs in this category are trained to work in a predefined area to indicate on things such as weapons, bullet casings, clothing or anything that a suspect may have dropped or discarded during a chase. Police agencies typically use dogs highly trained in this specialty to aid in finding crime scene evidence.




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