Standards for Professional Search and Rescue Dog Teams

Our organization, Search and Rescue Dogs of the United States, is involved in law enforcement searches of crime scenes, investigating abductions and searches for missing persons, searches for lost people, and searches for people caught in man-made and natural disasters. Our volunteer members are professional volunteers who adhere to the highest standards and training.

Standards for K9 Teams

Professional standards are the benchmark of all agencies charged with protecting the public. Dog teams trained to find people are a proven life-saving resource. This resource is an essential tool in many crime scenes, often finding evidence and recovering victims of crimes. Dog teams are one of the most valuable tools for finding those at risk when they go missing, such as the elderly, children, or disabled. Many jurisdictions go without the benefit of having dog resources as part of their rescue emergency response system, putting their communities at risk.

Law enforcement must look for the following characteristics before deploying a dog resource:

  • Dog teams that have been certified to a strong written standard provide more reliable and skilled service.
  • Case law requires dog teams used for criminal cases to be certified by an independent organization.
  • Dog teams must maintain training records that support the proficiency of the dog team.
  • Dog teams must have ongoing education in the fields they are specializing in.
  • Incident Commanders must know the capabilities of their resources to manage lost or missing person emergencies efficiently.

Our organization provides these standards on a national level, representing the best in the search and rescue dog system. Professional search and rescue dog handlers meet many of the same standards of those serving in law enforcement, fire service, and emergency medical response. We provide education, certification, and training for rescue dog handlers, so incident commanders know the capabilities of the dog resource.

Certification Standards

Rescue and Recovery

However, search and rescue dogs are only one part of your search team.

  • Search and rescue dog teams are an integral part of any agency’s resource list.
  • Search and rescue dog teams are professional resources used by public safety agencies throughout the world.
  • SAR dog teams are integrated into the Incident Command structure of agencies that routinely look for lost and missing people.
  • Dog teams work with law enforcement, firefighters, mountain rescue, ski patrol, as well as local, state and national rescue organizations.
  • Professional dog teams meet the same type of guidelines that are required of law enforcement and freighters nationwide by utilizing certification and education standards. Dog teams certified by SARDUS meet NIMS typing standards.

Search and rescue dog teams, as well as all other emergency response personnel, are adapting to the changes required by NIMS. The result is a more efficient Incident Command structure and thus a better-organized rescue or recovery. The goal of all rescue agencies is to do what is best for the lost or missing person.

Federal Requirements for Search and Rescue Dog Teams

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created the National Incident Management System (NIMS) as required under Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD)-5. NIMS provides the framework for organizations to work together to prepare for, protect against, respond to, and recover from the entire spectrum of all-hazard events.

One of the primary responsibilities of the National Integration Center (NIC) Incident Management Systems Division is to identify guidelines, protocols, and standards that will help emergency responders and managers from all levels of government organize effective responses to emergency incidents and hazards, natural disasters, and terrorism.

The National Mutual Aid and Resource Management Initiative supports the National Incident Management System (NIMS) by establishing a comprehensive, integrated national mutual aid, and resource management system that provides the basis to type, order, and track all (federal, state, and local) response assets.

Are you interested in becoming a member?

Agency Membership

Agency Membership brings the following benefits:

Agencies with Current SAR Dog Resource

  • Certify Evaluators in Your Jurisdiction
  • Certify Your Current SAR Dog Resources
  • Meet NIMS Typing Standards for SAR Dogs
  • Satisfy Evidence Standards Set by Case Law for Canines
  • Training and Continued Education Available

Agencies with No Current SAR Dog Resources:

  • Provide Support for Developing Local Resources
  • Provide Training and Education
  • If you need a SAR dog team, we will work to provide you a SARDUS-certified resource and assist in setting mutual aid agreements with SAR organizations that are SARDUS-certified.

Search and Rescue Dogs of the United States
PO Box 911
Lyons, CO 80540
Contact Us Directly