This page is designed for agencies, to help make your use of search dogs more effective and efficient. It is not all-inclusive however, so don't hesitate to contact us for more information:
K-9 Emergency Response Teams
24 hr. Emergency Pager: (920)586-1325
General Info: (920)882-7895
USE OF SEARCH DOG TEAMS
First, call us early; we do not mind turning around if the subject is found while we are enroute. Delay can make the dogs' job more difficult and can ultimately lead to unnecessary tragedies.
Second, ask for credentials. Any reputable search dog team will be willing and able to provide the names of agencies that have used them in the past and would do so again.
Third, beware of the following:
No one finds everyone/everything that they search for; be wary of those who make this or similar claims. Some handlers would have you believe that there are no limits to dogs' abilities. Reputable teams do not make outrageous claims such as the ability to follow trails weeks, months or years old. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
Reputable search teams will not just show up on-scene without your authorization and they will respect your decision not to call search dogs. They will also not contact the family and manipulate them into pressuring you to allow them to search.
Search teams should be there to work, not to get their picture in the paper or an interview on TV. Beware of those who only seem to have their dogs out of the vehicles when the cameras are rolling!
THE LONE WOLF
In general, successful searches require the combined efforts of multiple resources. While more is not always better, it is usually advantageous to have several K-9's on-scene. Be suspicious of those who do not belong to a team when there is an established one in the area; often it is because these handlers are not good team players. In addition dogs/handlers who belong to a team are often better trained since they have to meet team standards and answer to authority.
COLLECTING & HANDLING SCENT ARTICLES
A scent article can be anything that holds the scent of the missing subject. The best scent articles are those that have not been contaminated with any other person's scent. Pillowcases, dirty laundry, shoes, and caps make very good scent articles, but a scent-discriminating K-9 can be started off of almost any object handled by the subject- keys, wallet, plastic and aluminum drink containers, the seat of a vehicle, etc. In addition multiple scent articles can be made out of one by placing sterile gauze pads into a ZipLoc bag with the original item.
Many handlers prefer to collect their own scent articles, but there are times when this is not practical. If scent contamination is going to be a problem before the handler arrives, have someone wearing latex gloves place the article(s) into a ZipLoc or paper bag (do not use scented garbage bags). Seal the bag and label it with the date and time collected and the initials of the person who collected it.
HANDLING THE SCENE
Park vehicles at least 100 yds. away from the last known position of the missing person. Try to minimize contamination by limiting access to the scene- only those who have a genuine need to be there should be allowed in. If possible, have those people present when the K-9 arrives so that they can eliminate them from the scent picture.
Have witnesses and family members available for someone from the search team to interview. They may have information that will assist the K-9 in working the scent scene more efficiently.
These things will help to make your use of search K-9's more effective but well-trained dogs can overcome most obstacles; don't hesitate to call, even if the scene has been badly contaminated.