International Leadership Team
Let us introduce you to some key people in our international rescue dog organization, as well as provide you with some background information. Search and Rescue Dogs of the United States has been helping with a variety of search and rescue missions since 1991.
President Jeff Hiebert
Jeff Hiebert started working in law enforcement in 1989. This was his introduction to search and rescue (SAR) dogs. His first dog, Frisco, was certified in wilderness area search, avalanche, water search, and HRD through Front Range Rescue Dogs.
Currently, he’s working with his second and third Ranger Service Dogs, Dax and Trinity. These dogs are a blend of a police service K9 and SAR dog. They’re both certified in urban trailing, HRD, and water search. Jeff’s specialty is HRD in urban and wilderness trailing. Now, he’s working on certifying his 8th search dog.
Jeff has trained in all disciplines. He is certified (and has evaluated) in wilderness air scent, water, avalanche, article, urban trailing, and wilderness trailing.
A former president and vice president of Front Range Rescue Dogs, Jeff has a bachelor’s in Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology from the University of Colorado. He minored in Animal Behavior (ethology).
Vice President Doug Teeft
Doug Teeft has been working with K9s for about 35 years. He grew up around working dogs, as his father was a Dog Master and Trainer for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He founded the first Canadian branch of American Rescue Dog Association in Nova Scotia (ARDA-NS). He currently owns and operates Teeft K9 Center, a company that offers dog training and K9 equipment.
Doug currently has three German shepherds at various stages of training in specialty work, including search and rescue, disaster, evidence recovery, and gas line leaks.
He has worked with many national and state agencies, including the:
- U.S. Accelerant Dog Association
- California Narcotics Association
- U.S. Border Patrol
- U.S. Beagle Brigade (Border Food Inspection)
- Auburn University
- U.S. Department of Defense, K-9 Section
- FBI Homicide Division
Doug coordinates searches for eastern Canada and provides detection services for their ports.
Treasurer Ann Wichmann (Co-founder)
Ann Wichmann has been training SAR dogs since 1975 when she started as the first female park ranger in Colorado. Ann is the co-founder of SARDUS, Search and Rescue Dogs of Colorado and Front Range Rescue Dogs. Ann served on the FEMA Canine Subcommittee from 1991 to 2004 helping to develop both the teaching curriculum and national standard for the Disaster Search Canine Readiness Program. In 1992, Ann was one of the original instructors for FEMA and continued to evaluate until 2010. Ann currently serves as an evaluator for NSDA, NASAR, AERIE and SARDUS. Ann has trained many dogs in all SAR disciplines and responded to searches all over the US including the World Trade Center in 2001, multiple hurricanes and countless local searches in the wilderness of Colorado and Oregon.
Director-at-Large Teresa MacPherson
As a member of Virginia Task Force One and Virginia Search and Rescue Dog Association, Teresa MacPherson has responded to numerous missions on a local, state, federal, and international level. These deployments include the numerous call-outs by the FBI, CIA, NCIS, and local law enforcement agencies, and specifically:
- Oklahoma City Bombing of the Murrah Federal Building
- Hurricanes Katrina and Ike
- Bam, Iran Earthquake
- School Collapse in Haiti
- Haiti Earthquake
- Japan Earthquake/Tsunami
- Superstorm Sandy
- Oso Mudslide
- Nepal Earthquakes
- Hurricanes Irma/Maria in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
Teresa has certified multiple canines in the wilderness, water, human remains, and disaster search.
In addition to responding to search missions, she instructs and evaluates on a local, state, federal, and international level. She has instructed and evaluated across the United States and has traveled to Turkey, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Australia to assist in the education and evaluation of their search resources.
Teresa chaired the FEMA Canine Sub-Group for nine years, which oversees the federal Urban Search and Rescue canine program. She is also a member of the NIMs SAR working group, as well as several other canine organizations, giving her a broad knowledge base of canine search. She resides in Catlett, VA, with her husband, Jack and her Labradors Keys, Bayou, and Port.
Director-at-Large John Beck
John Beck has worked with search and rescue dogs since 1997.
He is the former President of NASDN and has been involved with this organization since 1996.
He is responsible for arranging training and evaluations across the country for NASDN.
He currently works as a dog in Human Remains Detection in Nebraska. He also evaluates police K9s when not working SAR dogs.
Director-at-Large Dr. Janet Brennan, DVM (Co-Founder)
Dr. Janet Brennan has been a dog handler for more than 30 years. She has worked as a search and rescue dog trainer, instructor, and handler with the California Rescue Dog Association (CARDA) and the Monterey Bay Search Dogs (MBSD). She is a consultant to police departments in the training, evaluation, conditioning, and use of police service dogs.
She has served as the director of the Animal Hospital of Soquel in Santa Cruz, CA, since 1971.
Director-at-Large Emeritus L. Bruce Bowler (Co-Founder)
Bruce Bowler is the founder of SEADOGS (Alaska) K9 Search and Rescue Team and has served as team manager since 1977. He has served as Incident Commander on many of the 650-plus search and rescue missions logged by SEADOGS from Barrow to Dutch Harbor.
He assisted in the formation of the SAR Dog network in Alaska and has trained in wilderness, avalanche, disaster (collapsed structure), water, and cadaver search. Bruce began teaching SAR management with NPS at one of the first search management courses in the early 1980s. He has been a guest instructor at the Alaska Public Safety Academy, NASAR conference, and the National Fire Academy. In addition, he led one of two American SAR Teams to Soviet Armenia in 1988, and the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 as the SAR representative of the governor of Alaska.
He has been appointed to the FEMA National Standards Task Force, which created the FEMA Urban Search and rescue program, and was a member of the NASAR and ASTM national SAR Dog standards working group.
Bruce received the Presidential Points of Light Award, Lt. Governor's Volunteer Award, DPS Directors Award, Alaska Peace Officers Association Member of the Year, Juneau's Citizen of the Year, and the Alaska State Troopers first Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.
He is a certified Critical Incident Stress Management Instructor and debriefer; NASAR, ISAR, and FUNSAR instructor; and co-founder of the SE Alaska CISM team. His wife Judy coordinates the SE Alaska CISM Team. He was elected as SEADOGS President Emeritus in 2019.
Director-at-Large George Epp
Epp started his career as a jail deputy with the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office in 1972, He worked up through the ranks of the Sheriff’s Office, eventually serving as the head of each major division.
Epp was elected sheriff of Boulder County in 1990, and subsequently re-elected in 1994 and 1998. Boulder County is home to one of the most active search and rescue communities in the nation. During his career Epp was involved in thousands of search and rescue operations.
Epp left the Boulder Sheriff’s Office in 2003 and accepted a position as Executive Director of County Sheriffs of Colorado.
In 2006 he was asked by former Colorado Governor Bill Owens to become the Director of the Colorado Division of Emergency Management. He retired from that position in 2007.
Epp has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Colorado.
Epp retired from the Advisory Council and Board of Directors of the National Criminal Justice Association.
He has been the chairman of Colorado’s Drug Control and System Improvement Board, a member of Colorado Governor’s Columbine Review Commission, a member of the National Task Force on Public Safety Radio Interoperability, and the Colorado Legislature’s Task Force on the Mentally Ill in the Criminal Justice System.
He was a member of the board of directors of the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless for 16 years and served three years as the president of that board. He is also a past president of County Sheriffs of Colorado and was for many years the chairman of the County Sheriffs of Colorado Legislative Committee.
Epp served for six years as a member of Colorado’s Juvenile Parole Board, including two years as chairman.
In his retirement, he enjoys woodturning, bicycling, and hiking with his dog Dexter.