The Kelowna and Oliver / Osoyoos Search and Rescue teams have added four-legged members to their teams.
Labrador Retriever Chase and German Shepherd Kaya were validated last week in Merritt by RCMP Police Dog Services during BC Search Dog Association training.
“The team has been so excited it’s been an 18 month wait period for them so everyone is looking forward to it now that it can actually be deployed,” said Terry Downs of COSAR, the manager of Chase.
“We never want to be deployed, but if the situation arises he is ready to go now.
“From a research perspective, I always say every second counts,” said Mike Arychuk of OOSAR, the manager of Kaya.
Downs says search dogs dramatically reduce the time it takes to find someone, which helps the team save energy and resources.
“A search dog has superior nasal abilities to find lost people or evidence of items of clothing. Essentially, they are equivalent to 20 to 30 researchers on the ground, ”adds Arychuk.
Kaya and Chase are regular pets when they’re at home, but once their research vests are in place, it’s time to go.
“Physically he’s like an athlete, like a top gymnast… and mentally he’s a bit like Albert Einstein – he has to be stimulated,” Downs explains, referring to Chase’s workouts.
“We have to stay ready for the mission so that in the event that someone is lost, they are not vitiated with their skills.”
Kaya is a much more vocal and energetic dog than Chase. Arychuk says if she doesn’t work on an issue for an hour or two a day, she gets loud.
“Really, it’s been five days a week, it’s been an hour or two doing stuff since we got home at eight and a half weeks, when we started training with her.
Kaya and Chase are yet to be deployed, but as seasoned researchers Mike and Terry say emotions run high when you find what you’re looking for.
“Usually tears of joy,” says Arychuk, who once owned a K9 search dog. “When you find them it’s not about rewarding the dog at this point, it’s about making sure that person is healthy, making sure they need medical attention. they understood it.
He says that after the victim is cured, it is a moment of pure joy that cannot be imitated.
Chase comes from a family of search dogs and has around 20 cousins who serve as avalanche search dogs.