Lost person search, rescue and recovery. K9/Handler teams available to law enforcement and public safety agencies at no charge

What is MinnSARDA
An autistic child leaves the house unseen, a hunter or hiker goes missing, a patient from memory care wanders away, a person suspected of committing suicide can't be found, investigators get a new tip on a cold case.  Established in 1981 as a 501(c)3 organization, MinnSARDA is the oldest canine search and rescue unit in the state of Minnesota.  We provide specially trained dog/handler teams to assist public safety agencies in lost person searches - such as those described above.  Our services are free of charge to requesting law enforcement agencies and are available 24/7/365.  We primarily serve the state of Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro area, but occasionally work in other states.  

How Are Teams Used?
Teams are trained to work in three main areas:  
  • Trailing/Tracking - The dog smells a "scent article" (something the lost person has touched) and follows the scent on the ground. The K9 works on-long line and harness towing the handler behind. The handler must learn to "read" when the dog is still on the trail;
  • Air Scent - Dogs follow air currents on the wind to get to the missing person. Typically, these dogs work off-leash and quarter an area much like a hunting dog. They are able to quickly cover large areas;
  • Human Remains Detection (Cadaver Dogs) - These K9s are trained to locate and alert to the scent of human remains. They can work on land or on water from a boat
About the Dogs
  • Can be pure-bred or mixed
  • Must be able to withstand Minnesota weather extremes  
  • Physically and mentally sound
  • Non-aggressive to people and other dogs
  • Confident/comfortable working in wilderness or urban settings
  • Able to learn scent work, obedience and appropriate behavior in public
  • Must be driven and focused enough to want to look for a complete stranger
We most often start with puppies or young dogs since it takes about 1 1/2 to 2 years to get them trained and ready to attempt certification.  Typical retirement age is 8-10 years. This work is not for every dog. Not all who begin training are able to successfully complete the requirements needed to become a certified SAR dog. When they are not working, our dogs are beloved members of our families.

The Handlers

There are also many requirements for the handlers. They must learn:
  • Scent theory and search strategy;
  • Navigation with map, compass and GPS;
  • Human and canine first aid (minimum CPR/1st Aid certified);
  • Radio communication skills;
  • Lost person behavior;
  • Crime scene preservation;
  • Positive dog training methods;
  • We train all year round in all types of weather and terrain since we never know where or when someone will get lost. Like the dogs, handlers must be able to withstand Minnesota's weather extremes. This includes ticks and rain in the spring, mosquitoes and poison ivy in the summer, burrs and mud in fall, and ice and freezing temperatures in the winter. We get dirty, stinky and wet. Both human and canine members must be physically able to hike long distances over a variety of terrain.  We put lots of miles on our boots!  
  • SAR involves a significant time committment;
  • Must be willing to do all this as an unpaid volunteer!
Where You Come In
Though we are a small unit, expenses do add up.  As unpaid volunteers, each handler is financially responsible for all aspects of training, certifying and working.  Dogs and handlers spend hundreds of hours training together each year. We train as a unit most weekends year round and on our own during the week.  Most members attend national or local seminars to hone their skills and learn new things.  Field eligible teams must re-certify with an outside evaluator annually. Handlers must be first aid/CPR and NASAR certified.  Dogs must pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen test. Responding to a callout may require that we take time away from our paid jobs.  All of these things cost money.  Other expenses include: gas for training and searches, wear and tear on vehicles, equipment (such as gps units, radios, appropriate all weather clothing), various K9 gear, and veterinary care for the dogs to make sure they stay in top physical condition.  We spend our time, money and efforts on all of these things because we believe that well-trained dog/handler teams can be a valuable asset in a search for a missing loved one and we want to serve our communities.

Please consider supporting MinnSARDA with a tax deductible donation in any amount. 

© 2018 GiveMN | A registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.