Search and rescue dog training comes to Kelowna
Over the weekend 16 Search and Rescue K9 teams from across B.C. were in Kelowna for training sessions with the RCMP Police Dog Services.
This is a yearly requirement for volunteer SAR K9 units through the Emergency Management B.C. program (EMBC).
While there are currently 79 search and rescue groups in the province, only the B.C. Search Dog Association and the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association are considered official K9 training bodies.
COSAR’s K9 ‘Chase’ because certified last year after completing roughly 2,000 hours of training. During his first year after being certified, he helped out on 20 tasks and achieved lots of great success, according to I Heart Radio.
“He has definitely contributed to saving lives,” said his handler Terry Downs.
Chase has been on missions involving snowmobiles, helicopters and UTVs. Trained and certified K9’s are taught to work through all conditions and in remote locations so they can be as helpful as possible.
“A K9 team can cover an area faster and safer than a conventional ground team and have proven themselves in locating lost seniors, missing children and those in distress.”
These K9s gain knowledge from the RCMP Police Dog Services who mentor them throughout the year of training.
“We are incredibly fortunate in Kelowna and the Okanagan to have the support of the local RCMP Police Dog handlers who are very supportive of having the SAR K9s as an additional resource in the field,” says Terry.
A K9 handler will typically spend around $10,000 per year on training, equipment and traveling. Training is achieved throughout different parts of B.C. and its common for K9’s to travel to other areas to assist other teams who might not have K9’s of their own.
Costs associated with these things are usually up to the handlers to cover, as well as their SAR groups.
“Chase is very popular with the team and the public,” says Terry. “We are grateful to all members of the public who have made generous donations for Chase’s expenses along with some families of those that Chase assisted in locating.”