This past weekend at the SARCity conference in Barstow, California, I had the pleasure of meeting several members of the K9 Search and Rescue team from Dolores, Colorado, a non-profit organization established in 1984 that does not operate under a Sheriff's department. These dedicated volunteers make themselves available 24 hours a day, year-round, to respond to calls for SAR throughout the States. To date, they've assisted with missions in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Alaska, California, Idaho, and Texas.
And the team shows up to missions completely self-sufficient for a minimum of five days, traveling in a modified school bus that has room for nine passengers and kennels for five or more dogs, and can serve as a communications center during searches. The team also has a 4-wheel drive pick-up and a base camp trailer that holds most of their rescue and medical gear, which is brought along when needed.
Other than fuel reimbursement, there is no compensation requested by the team when they respond to everything from wilderness, urban and evidence searches to missions involving water, snow, homicide, aircraft, and disaster-type searches. The team depends on the support of the community, grants and fundraisers to maintain their operations.
You can read more about the team's human members and their search dogs on their website at www.k9team.org, where you'll also find a mission history dating back more than six years and information on becoming a member. And you don't have to have a dog to do so; besides being a handler, the team needs navigators, base support, and even non-field personnel--those with valuable skills who do not deploy in the event of a mission.
One thing that really impressed me about the team members I met was how open and friendly they were, coming over to introduce themselves to me soon after I arrived at the conference. I also sensed a strong camaraderie among them, which tells me they not only enjoy each other's company but train and work well together also. I know they've come to our county in Arizona at least once before to assist with a mission (before my time), and I'd welcome working with them in the future.
Here are some news releases about the team:
K9 TEAM ASSISTS IN SEARCH FOR MISSING NEW MEXICO STATE POLICE HELICOPTER
LOCAL K9 SEARCH AND RESCUE ASSISTS IN FINDING MISSING SNOWBOARDER
BUSY SUMMER FOR K9 SEARCH AND RESCUE
******If you plan to attend the July 2010 SARCon in Gunnison, Colorado, you'll likely meet some of this team's members there. Information about SARCon will be posted on the COSAR website next year.