by Lucie Roy
Sturgeon Rural Crime Watch (SRCW) members got a better understanding of the work search dogs do Oct. 14. Members of the Canadian Search Dog Association (CSDA) provide a demonstration during the crime watch organization’s monthly meeting at the Provincial Building.
This non-profit organization of volunteers provides a service province wide with 31 dogs, 18 of which have some type of certification. The association’s goal is to save lives. The trained search volunteers and their dogs are there to aid RCMP and other authorized agencies in their search for lost or missing persons.
CSDA member Phil Colclough, who brought his German shepherd, Dharma, said volunteers find the work incredibly rewarding and that they do the work for the community.
Search dogs are trained while the animal is young. Trainers make up fun games to train the dogs, games that become more intricate in order to develop their skills. Once the basic training is completed, trainers add more distance and do more involved training, then switch the dog from visual searching to searching by scent. The dogs are not required to be scent specific because if they are searching in the wilderness or rural areas the dog searches for any human scent.
Both dogs and handlers must train and pass annual certification testing and training in order to maintain their status as an active team ready to respond 24/7. The dogs are trained to search for people, human remains and large and small items. They are not trained for apprehension or trained to search for bombs or drugs.