Scout, a Chocolate Labrador Retriever, is a Copper Mountain Certified Avalanche Rescue Dog trained to find people buried in the snow.
He air scents to locate the buried person and then does an aggressive double paw dig as an alert to let me know he has found someone. Sometimes he has them dug out by the time I arrive to get him. He is then rewarded with a good game of tug-of-war with his favorite toy.
We choose CANIDAE All Life Stages dog food because it gives Scout the energy and nutrition he needs day in and day out. Avalanche rescue is demanding on Scout. Riding chairlifts, snowmobiles and searching for people buried in the snow can create an appetite. CANIDAE All Life Stages steps up to the demand.
UPDATE: December 2010 – Scout and I have been back to work at Copper since November and have been loving the snow. Scout and I got CRAD (Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment) certified last spring. Each year the dog teams have to get a refresher and training to be able to fly in the helicopter.
The CRAD training process is becoming more difficult this year because the program is trying to only allow more serious and qualified professionals. Scout and I were asked to be an active dog team before this training began. There were only four other dog teams asked to become active early because all of the new snow and avalanche danger. We felt privileged. Scout and I are pictured at the flight for life training beside the helicopter.
The Volunteer Search and Rescue Canine Teams of Search and Rescue Dogs Ontario have provided a unique and valuable service to the many communities across Ontario since 2002 in the search for lost or missing persons at no cost to requesting police agencies.
They are Volunteer SAR Canine members of the Hamilton Police Service (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada). The Hamilton Police Service is one of the only Police agencies in Ontario where unpaid professional SAR Canine Teams are deployed within the service alongside regular members in ground search and rescue operations.
photo caption above: Hetty Abma with “Ryker”, Dave Walker with “Katja”, Marianne Ivancsics with “Bliss”, and Ray Lau with “Ace”
The team consists of four Dutch Shepherds. Several of the dogs on the unit were rescued or adopted from situations where they were not wanted… now they rescue humans. The unit also maintains two retired SAR dogs and three new puppies that will be replacing them in the near future.
The Hamilton Police Service Volunteer Search and Rescue Canine Teams are also members of the Ontario Search and Rescue Volunteer Association (OSARVA) where the canine teams certify annually to the Ontario Provincial Police Civilian Search and Rescue Canine Standards.
All handlers attend yearly Ground Search & Rescue (GSAR) Training/Certification with both the Hamilton Police Service and OSARVA/OPP. This training includes map and compass, GPS training, first-aid, CPR, wilderness survival, lost person behavior, search patterns, and more.
The canine teams are trained in tracking (foot prints), area searching (air-scenting), article searching, obedience, and agility. The dogs are trained to find both live and deceased persons. All SAR Canine Teams have completed an initial 52 week basic training course which is over 1,200 hours long. The teams regularly train all year around every Saturday for eight hours and every Wednesday for four hours to maintain their annual certification and to keep their skills at a mission-ready status to assist the police in the search for lost or missing persons.
Ray Lau and “ACE” received worldwide media attention and recognition for their efforts in finding a woman alive who was buried in the snow for three days in Ancaster, Ontario days before Christmas 2008.
All of the SAR Canines are fed CANIDAE All Life Stages or CANIDAE Chicken and Rice dog food which has proven to be excellent at providing the nutrition these hard working dogs need to stay healthy, provide them energy, and keep them physically fit in a sometimes dangerous and demanding environment. As a reward for their efforts, all of the team’s dogs are given CANIDAE Snap-Biscuit treats as well.
Although provincially certified by the OPP and the Hamilton Police Service, Search and Rescue Dogs Ontario is a non-profit organization and does not receive any government funding. Generous donations from the community are their sole source of funding. For more information on their volunteer canine teams and how to make a donation to Search and Rescue Dogs Ontario please visit www.sardogsontario.com
Atticus, a five year old black labrador retriever, is a fully certified avalanche rescue dog who began coming to work with me at the Breckenridge Ski Patrol when he was less than two years old. Together, we started on the path of a long training progression that would prove to be incredibly educational and rewarding for both of us.
Breckenridge’s avalanche rescue dog program not only provides a safety-net for the unlikely event of an inbounds avalanche but we also support our community and surrounding communities by providing our expertise as the first response team to backcountry avalanches. In both scenarios, speed is one of the most important factors.
Atticus has been trained to rapidly smell people buried under the snow and indicate to me where they are. For him it is essentially a big game of fetch; only he retrieves people instead of tennis balls. In reaching his full C-RAD (Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment) certification, Atticus demonstrated that he can find two people buried 3-6 feet under the snow in a 200’ x 200’ snowfield in less than 30 minutes.
Although he goes home as my “pet” each night, Atticus endures an extremely rigorous schedule every time he comes to work and I need to trust that he is always prepared for whatever the day might throw at us. CANIDAE All Life Stages dog food provides the nutrition to power Atticus’ go-go attitude and his double-paw-digging, butt-shaking alerts.
Cascade, a Golden Retriever, is a certified avalanche rescue dog with Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment (C-RAD). He works in the Central Mountains of Colorado with Chicago Ridge Snowcat Tours, a backcountry skiing and riding operation.
His primary mission is to serve the skiing public and backcountry users – both in rescue and education – as well as respond to remote incidents.
Cascade is handled and trained by Chris and Hannah Sutton. Together with their partnership with C-RAD and Flight for Life Colorado, Cascade is ready to respond to avalanche incidents by helicopter.
In a case where a victim is buried without an avalanche beacon or friends cannot locate them, Cascade’s trained nose can save vital minutes in finding a victim versus conventional rescue methods.
Cascade’s job, whether training or on a mission, is a physically demanding one. We believe the foundation to a great working dog is love, training, health care and good nutrition. He has been fed CANIDAE All Life Stages since he was a pup with the breeder. We have continued that tradition. His performance is critical when moments count, and that is why we believe in CANIDAE!
UPDATE: March 2012 – Our new dog Hank works for Red, White & Blue Fire Rescue in Breckenridge, Colorado as a Search and Rescue canine. His handler is Chris Sutton. Hank’s primary mission is disaster response, though he is cross-trained in avalanche search and assist with missing party searches. He also serves on a team that responds to local and national disasters.
Hank’s job requires him to be agile over building and avalanche debris, in addition to working for up to 12 hours in an operational period. He has to perform at his peak whenever his service is called upon. We feed him CANIDAE All Life Stages. His diet keeps him fit, lean, and ready to respond at a moment’s notice.