Canine and Handler Certification

Urban Search-and-Rescue (US&R) task forces are supported by highly trained canines and canine handlers.  All of FEMA's US&R task forces have canine/handler teams, nearly all of which are certified in urban search-and-rescue strategies and techniques.

Each canine/handler team must pass rigorous national certification in urban search and rescue. Canine/handler teams must be re-certified at least every two years in order to participate in search and rescue operations.

For the handler, certification includes written and verbal tests regarding search-and-rescue strategies, briefing and debriefing skills, and canine handling skills.

For the search-and-rescue canine, certification includes proper command control, agility skills, barking alert skills to notify rescuers of a find, and willingness to overcome innate fears of tunnels and wobbly surfaces under the guidance of the handler.

There are two levels of certification for search-and-rescue canine/handler teams.

It takes years of training for a search dog to reach basic certification. Many good search dogs never receive advance certification.

Last Modified: Thursday, 23-Mar-2006 11:18:20 EST