Recently, I crossed paths online with a member of Pathfinder Search & Rescue, a non-profit Canine SAR team based in Moore, Oklahoma. This is the only volunteer K-9 Search and Rescue team in Oklahoma listed with the State as an Emergency Resource.
The group responds to calls involving urban and wilderness search and rescue, both natural and manmade disasters, missing children, cadaver searches, and scent discrimination throughout the state. They've also responded to incidents out of state, including the post-Katrina floods in New Orleans.
Pathfinder SAR began in 1997 and has since grown to include a current group of six active human volunteers and 6 dogs, who train, on average, 300 hours per year.
On January 22, 2000, five search dogs from the Pathfinder team were inducted into the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association's Pet Hall of Fame for their role in the search and rescue efforts after the May 3rd, 1999 tornados that struck Oklahoma.
In addition to responding to mission call-outs, Pathfinder Search and Rescue offers free programs to the community, including educational services to schools and youth groups. Their Sit and Stay program teaches kids what to do if lost and, time-permitting, introduces them to the Search Dogs. The team also offers continuation credit hours to Police or Sheriffs Departments that request the service, making them the only volunteer SAR team in the State of Oklahoma to offer this free service. In addition, Pathfinder SAR offers classes to any agency that wants a better understanding of how Search and Rescue dogs work and how they can be utilized.
Pathfinder SAR's most recent mission occurred on May 4, 2009, and involved the search for a missing 81 year-old woman with Alzheimer's and Dementia, who was found alive and in good health.
Visit the team's website at www.PathfinderSAR.org
Follow Pathfinder SAR on Twitter.
Watch the team's video:
Pathfinder Search & Rescue is currently working on a number of fundraising projects, seeking donations for much-needed equipment for their command trailer, medical and communications equipment, and other ongoing operating costs. Check out the team's wishlist and see how you might help.
(Images courtesy of Patherfinder SAR)