Alaska Search & Rescue Dogs (ASARD) is a nonprofit, volunteer emergency service unit based in Anchorage, Alaska. Its primary purpose is to assist in search and rescue (SAR) operations using teams of highly trained search dogs and searcher-handlers.
ASARD teams can work with startling speed in some situations. They are prepared to be self-sufficient for days in the field on extended operations. Around Alaska and around the world, search dog teams have responded to incidents involving such cases as:
- lost children, hikers, and skiers
- missing senior citizens
- missing hunters and snowmachiners
- aircraft and boating accidents
- snow avalanches and landslides
- collapsed buildings and earthquakes
- flood and disaster evacuations
The unit also carries on a preventive SAR education program. Handlers regularly present lectures and demonstrations to a variety of audiences, fostering outdoor awareness and basic survival skills to the general public, and providing information on the training and capabilities of SAR dog units to user agencies and interested groups.
LEARNING MORE ABOUT ASARD
* GENERAL MEETINGS are open to all interested individuals. Meetings are held the first Monday of the month. Arrangements can also be made for prospective handlers to view or take part in unit training sessions (depending upon location and type of training).
* COMMUNITY PRESENTATIONS on preventative Search and Rescue education, search dog training and dog capabilities (including live demonstrations) are given by the ASARD handlers regularly and by arrangement.
* STATEWIDE SAR TRAINING WORKSHOPS sponsored by ASARD include 2-3 day Winter Response (Avalanche Training) Workshops, Disaster Response and Wilderness Response Workshops.
ASARD is a Member Unit of the National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR) with headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia.
A GOOD SEARCH DOG
Most purebred and mixed breed dogs have good noses. A good search dog also has intelligence, a steady temperament, responsiveness (trainability), persistence and endurance. Good handlers have those qualities too. What follows from there involves trust and teamwork. There is specialized obedience and agility training, socialization work with other dogs and people, various types of adaptive training for unusual situations and lots of scent work for that nose. ASARD dogs can do the job.
HOW SEARCH DOG TEAMS WORK
Search dogs can be extraordinarily successful in locating a missing person because they have been trained to use their keen sense of smell to specifically detect human scent. This includes not only the scent left behind as someone passes through an area or touches an object, but scent that a body continues to generate, wherever it is. Along with their ultra-sensitive hearing, night vision, stamina and ranging ability, training in air-scenting, tracking and trailing allows a dog to effectively search large areas both indoors and out, in heavy brush, difficult terrain, at night and over water, snow or debris. In many instances, air-scenting dogs can work after or right along with other human searchers, off-lead, and without a specific scent article or last known point.
Search dogs and their handlers live, train and work together as teams. The dog’s ability to effectively discriminate a human scent and search for it, is complemented by the handler’s experience with lost person behavior, search planning, first-aid, map and compass work, communications and other special skills, including a close knowledge of their dog’s searching behavior.
HOW TO BECOME AN ASARD TEAM
Becoming a search dog team and working with an active search and rescue unit is a serious commitment of time and effort. ASARD handlers spend hundreds of hours working with their dogs and training each year. They are responsible for most of their own travel, training and equipment expenses. Involvement with the unit begins with your commitment.
* Support Member: Membership in the unit begins as a support member. This allows the unit and the new member to become acquainted, and introduces the level of training and commitment required to become an active search dog team.
*Field Support Member: This level of membership allows the human to deploy into the field on missions to support an Operational Team. This is an integral part of response.
* Training Member: Training membership begins once the Field Support member is ready to accept the commitment and training required to continue preparing for operational status. Dogs and handlers must both meet rigorous qualifying standards before they are evaluated for mission-ready status at the end of their training period.
* Operational Search Dog Team: Successful training teams advance to operational status and become available for emergency call-outs.
PARTNERS WITH ASARD
Sponsorships and contributions to ASARD are another important way to support search and rescue efforts in Alaska. There is always more to do- whether it is equipping teams for the field, taking advantage of outside training opportunities, or compiling reference material in a library for search dog teams.
These and other continuing efforts cost money. Money for reliable radios and avalanche beacons. Money to travel thousands of Alaskan miles and to communicate with teams around the state. Sponsors and contributors can help ASARD to help others by joining the unit in a partnership- between search dog teams in the field and the concerned businesses and individuals who help to get them there. The unit also appreciates in-kind and service donation, as well as those special friends of ASARD who volunteer to go out and get lost for dogs during training.
For more information on how you can become a partner with ASARD, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
ASARD is a tax-exempt, non-profit corporation registered in Alaska. All contributions to the unit are tax-deductible under Sec.501 (c)(3) of the US Internal Revenue Code.
IN A SEARCH EMERGENCY
The State Department of Public Safety- Trooper Division (Alaska State Troopers) has been given primary responsibility for the search and rescue function in Alaska.
Any emergency around the state, which may involve a search and rescue response, should be reported to the nearest Trooper Detachment, Village Public Safety office or to Trooper Headquarters in Anchorage, 907-269-5711 (24 Hour Dispatch). All in state requests for search dog teams must originate with or have official mission approval from the Alaska State Troopers or Anchorage Police Department.
If your need is a true emergency please call 911 for immediate assistance.
ASARD will respond to a request day or night, wherever there is a need for a search dog team.
Thanks to the many people and companies that support and sponsor ASARD.