The third post in Prudent Pet’s Badass Dogs series uncovers the fantastic stories of search and rescue dogs. These pups are heroes deserving recognition and frequent celebration. They help save lives as well as provide hope for many people worldwide. Without a doubt, search and rescue doggies have earned the notoriety of badass.

What is a Search and Rescue Dog?

Search and rescue dogs are canines that find and locate missing persons. Whether a person has gone missing or if they’re trapped under rubble during a disaster, these pups will do their best to find the individuals.

Search and Rescue Dogs – History

The first reported incident which gave birth to the idea of search and rescue dogs was an avalanche in 1937 in the Swiss Alps. The rescue team brought their dog along during a rescue mission and noticed the pup showing interest in a specific spot his humans had already scanned. After searching the area once more, they located a victim.

This amazing happening led the Swiss Army to utilize search and rescue dogs that they began breeding for this specific purpose – mostly St. Bernard’s. Thus, began the service of dogs as a vital part in locating missing persons.

Search and Rescue Dogs – Breeds

These badass dogs include many different breeds with one common characteristic – their keen sense of smell. The following breeds are the variety of dogs graced with a knack for saving their human counterparts;

All of these dogs are bred and trained to be scent tracking professionals. Also, these dogs tend to be athletic and highly intelligent, making them great candidates for search and rescue missions.

Search and Rescue Dogs – Training

Search and rescue dog sniffing ground

Although these super dogs are not limited to their stature, the previously mentioned breeds are the most consistent and desired for the job. It’s imperative to begin training at the youngest possible age of the new pup, as early as 12 weeks. The process is very slow and gradual, with dogs learning at different rates. Usually, 600 hours of training is required to be prepped for fieldwork. During training, there are four fields a dog can be trained in.

  1. Tracking Dog: These pups are trained to locate scents from a person’s personal items, such as clothes with the subject’s scent. These dogs use the scent trail to uncover the path the subject may have taken. They can track about 50 feet ahead of the handler and lead them to the subject. Tracking dogs are mostly used to find criminals.
  2. Trailing Dog: These dogs are very similar to tracking dogs; however, they don’t follow a direct path. They are trained to use a person’s scent and ultimately locate the subject, just not with the exact path the person traveled. While tracking dogs follow the precise trail, trailing dogs get you to the endpoint by any path necessary. They can lead about 30 feet in front of the search party. Trailing dogs are mostly used to locate missing persons.
  3. Air Scent: Canines working off-air scent are trained to pick up on the scent of the missing person through the wind. These dogs travel much further away from their handler and take whatever path necessary to locate the missing person. They will either return to their handler and signal their findings or will bark if their handler is close enough to alert them. These dogs are typically used for locating people over large search areas.

Avalanche, Cadaver, Disaster: These search and rescue dogs are trained to find individuals under debris, rubble, snow, and other material that could trap someone. We’ll discuss these types of search and rescue dogs in more depth alongside historical natural disasters.


Search and Rescue Dogs During Crisis

Search dog in action

Search and rescue dogs specialize in disaster response skills. Their mission in many catastrophes is to find survivors buried in the rubble. The following are tales of heroic pups in some of the worst tragedies to happen in recent history.

Search and Rescue Dogs – 9/11

September 11th, 2001, two planes hit the World Trade Centers in New York City, causing both buildings to collapse. Many people were trapped under the rubble, and it is reported over 300 dogs took part in the search and rescue efforts at Ground Zero.

These canines worked tirelessly and determinedly to locate missing persons. The last reported missing person found alive was discovered by one of these valiant pooches almost 27 hours after the attack.

Search and Rescue Dogs – Haiti Earthquake

In 2010, a massive earthquake destroyed most of the island country of Haiti. The damage was devastating and left many trapped under rubble.

With so many people reported missing, dogs were employed to find and locate these victims. Cadaver and disaster dogs were challenged with finding remains of those that perished in this catastrophic event.

These dogs saved many lives as well as discovered many bodies, providing closure to families throughout Haiti.

Search and rescue dog training

Search and Rescue Dogs – Japan Tsunami

In 2011, an undersea earthquake led to a tsunami that laid waste to the Pacific coast of Japan. Search and rescue dogs were deployed throughout the affected areas to find and locate missing people beneath the devastation the tsunami left behind.

The canines and their handlers came from all over the world to provide aid and worked tirelessly in the ongoing days to save countless lives.

These miraculous fluff balls showed their true value and impressive skills during the aftermath of this unforeseen disaster, so it is only fair there is a day dedicated to these incredible animals.

International Search and Rescue Dog Day

Rescue dog in mission with officer

Mark your calendars, it’s time to celebrate all the heroic search and rescue dogs worldwide!

What is International Search and Rescue Dog Day?

This worldwide holiday is a date to recognize the dogs that will be the lifesavers of tomorrow. Search and rescue dogs are deployed nearly 2,000 times a year. The mission statement for these animals reads, “Ready for you 365 days a year”, meaning these doggos are working year-round to serve their humans. It’s our duty to dedicate an entire day to these hard-working buddies.

When is International Search and Rescue Dog Day?

International Search and Rescue Dog Day falls on April 29th. This year it will take place on a Tuesday – don’t forget it!

Across the globe, there are presentations, information events, and training demonstrations open to the public to provide education and raise awareness about these animals. Check your local town listings to see if your community is celebrating.

If there are no resident events to enjoy, donating to search and rescue dog foundations is a great alternative. National Disaster Search Dog Foundation and Search and Rescue Dogs of the United States are two phenomenal organizations that could benefit greatly from your donation.

Other ways to celebrate include taking to social media using the hashtag #NationalSearchandRescueAssociation to raise awareness, spending time with your dog, and ultimately promoting the operation, training, and heroic accomplishments of search and rescue dogs.

Retired Search and Rescue Dogs for Adoption

Man and search dog together

Most working dogs enter retirement and remain with their handler. Some of these pups are left without a home once they hang up the harness for good. Thankfully, there are organizations actively looking to find exceptional homes for retired canines. Mission K9 Rescue is a prominent association dedicated to locating willing owners. If you or a friend is looking to adopt a well-trained dog, look no further. You can change the life of a dog today!

If you already have a fluffy companion, why not ensure their health and happiness by receiving a Prudent Pet Insurance quote and start saving on dog insurance today.