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Friday, November 27, 2009

Featured Team: SAR Dogs Nepal

I first became aware of this Search and Rescue team when I corresponded with their founder and Managing Director on LinkedIn and decided to learn more about them.

SAR Dogs Nepal (formerly known as the Himalaya Rescue Dog Squad), established in October, 1989, by Dutchman Ingo Schnabel, is the only organization of its kind in the country, providing Search & Rescue teams and medical aid in the event of natural disasters and when trekkers are reported missing or injured. The squad is able to provide air rescue and tracker dogs to almost any area of Nepal. Members are experienced in a wide range of disciplines, including rock rescue, firefighting, logistics, and wilderness medicine.

The team has a newly formed Junior Rescue Squad,  thanks in large part to American dog trainer Lynn Martin from Oregon's Dog Obedience Academy, who traveled to Nepal with her sister, Kathleen Reick, to help SAR Dogs Nepal train six newly recruited Nepalese youngsters.  This follows a hiatus during The People's War in Nepal from 1996 until 2006, when SAR Dogs Nepal could not continue its training of new disaster relief workers. At present, only 18 staff members and 9 Nepalese volunteers remain, while the team's goal is to have a minimum of 100 disaster relief workers on standby in their mobile  Disaster Relief & Medical Aid Unit.

The team's main headquarters, including a dog breeding and training center, is in Shyauli Bazaar, Lamjung District, in the center of Nepal. They often work at an altitude of  5600 meters (18,373 feet) or more, in diverse and often harsh conditions--from jungle gorges to flooded plains, avalanche zones, and even large-scale traffic accidents.

Flash flooding is common in Nepal, when the monsoons bring heavy rain and heat, melting snow and ice to the rivers. There's also a lot of seismic activity, making landslides, earth tremors, and even full-scale earthquakes constant threats.

Due to a lack of national infrastructure and government support in the field, SAR Dogs Nepal has provided the only medical disaster relief to poor villages in remote areas.

You can learn more about the SAR Dogs Nepal and about the country on the team's website at SARDogsNepal.asia

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