The K9 Team is a “Specialty Team” within the SCVSAR organizational structure and part of the Special Operations Group. The K9 Team mission is to conduct K9 search operations to locate lost, injured and/or deceased persons whenever and wherever required. There are currently 28 members of the SCVSAR K9 Team from the following SCVSAR Units: EMRU, Alderwood, Snohomish, Marysville, OSU, ESAR. All members must be in good standing with their units and maintain their Core Competency Requirements at Field level as established by SCVSAR. Members of the K9 Team are either K9 Handlers or K9 Field Support and must complete additional training requirements, including the following:
- K9 Pet First Aid
- K9 Fitness Test (5 miles)
- Performing hider roles
- Radio reporting (start times, locations, status checks, etc.)
- Doing Subject Assessments
- K9 Search Plans
- Estimating and reporting location in UTMs
The K9 Team trains constantly (when not in quarantine); we train to tough standards; we certify our K9 Teams using 3rd party evaluators. The SCVSAR K9 Team has 3 primary K9 disciplines:
- Trailing K9 Teams (1 Certified team, 1 team in training):
- Trailing K9s are trained to find a specific live human and need a scent sample of the subject.
- Trailing dogs can work off trail in difficult terrain (not ideal) and inclement weather. They are better used in urban/rural areas.
- Trailing K9s work on-leash along with their handler and a Field Support Person.
- Air Scent K9 Teams (5 certified team, 8 teams in training)
- Airscent K9s are trained to find any live human in a mountain, forest, park or urban setting, they do not need a scent sample
- Airscent K9s work off-leash along with their handler and a Field Support Person.
- Airscent K9s work off trail in difficult terrain and in inclement weather for several hours at a time and will often ignore distractions, such as wildlife and strange noises
- HRD K9 Teams (1 certified team, 4 teams in training):
- Human Remains Detection (HRD) or cadaver K9s are used to locate the remains of deceased persons.
- Depending on the nature of the search, these K9s may work off-lead (e.g., to search a large area for buried remains) or on-lead (to recover clues from a crime scene).
- Cadaver K9s can locate entire bodies (including those buried or submerged), decomposed bodies, body fragments (including blood, tissues, hair, and bones) up to 15-feet underground.
The K9 Team supported 56 missions in 2019; and as of August 30th, supported 22 missions so far in 2020.