Seach and rescue teams in Central and South Okanagan add canine members

Furry searchers join teams

Search and Rescue teams from Kelowna Oliver/ Osoyoos have added four-legged members to their teams.

Labrador retriever Chase and German shepherd Kaya were validated by RCMP Police Dog Services at the BC Search Dog Association’s training course last week in Merritt.

In B.C., civilian dog handlers and their search dogs used by BC Search and Rescue group must be accredited by the RCMP and recognized by Emergency Management BC.

“We are looking forward to have our dogs aid in search and rescues in the Okanagan and surrounding areas. When we are needed, the RCMP will task us through the Provincial Emergency Program," says Chase’s handler, Terry Downs from COSAR.

“Dogs have a great sense of smell, but they also have superior hearing and night vision. This can help save time, and time is of the essence in a search. One search dog can be the equivalent of 20 to 30 human searchers,” adds Kaya’s handler, Mike Arychuk from OOSAR.

A K9 handler puts in approximately 2,000 hours of training over the first two years and spends thousands of dollars on the care and training of their dogs, and Downs and Arychuk are also active volunteers on their respective search teams.

Search and rescue teams don't charge for their services in B.C. and are non-profit societies operated by volunteers. Some funding is received through provincial and regional governments, with the remainder coming from donations or fundraising efforts.

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