DOGNY: America's Tribute to Search and Rescue Dogs
About Search and Rescue (SAR) Dogs
The bond between humans and canines is an ancient one. Dogs and people have lived together for twelve thousand years. Over the course of our history together, dogs and humans have worked as teams to find food, work with livestock and serve our country. Search and Rescue is arguably the dog's most noble vocation. Dogs have acted on behalf of lost or injured humans as early as 1750. The Canine Search and Rescue Teams of today put the canine-human bond into practice by tracking and finding victims of crime, avalanches, earthquakes, floods – and as we all witnessed on September 11 – terrorism.
An estimated 300 Search and Rescue Dogs and their handlers offered their services to the recovery efforts at The World Trade Center. The events of September 11 prompted the largest response of United States Urban Search and Rescue in the history of the FEMA network. Twenty-four of the twenty-eight FEMA Urban Search and Rescue teams were deployed, with twenty teams working at the World Trade Center and four in Washington. The FEMA teams, consisting of four dogs per team, represented nineteen states. The New York City Police K9 Unit deployed all of its German Shepherd Dogs for the grueling task of finding victims in the rubble. In addition to official, government sponsored teams, several volunteer Search and Rescue Dog teams arrived from all over the world to help with the Search and Recovery efforts.
Search and Rescue dogs represent a variety of breeds, the most common of which are German Shepherd Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers.
Working with their handlers, Search and Rescue Dogs find lost children, Alzheimer's patients who have wandered from their homes, victims of drowning, avalanche, flood, tornadoes and other disasters. And incredibly, many of them do it not as professionals, but as volunteers.
Their dedication is even more incredible when you realize how much training is involved. Preparing a team for its first mission takes twice-a-week practices for a solid year. Handlers must learn land navigation, map and compass, wilderness survival and other skills, They practice rigorously throughout their lives to keep those skills sharp.
In a time when disaster preparedness is so crucial, DOGNY seeks to ensure that we will never be short of resources for our nation's Search and Rescue Dogs. In the words of The NYPD K-9 Unit's Lt. Dan Donadio, "What we do is needed now more than ever."