K-9

The New Jersey Search and Rescue K-9 Unit is an all-volunteer unit comprised of dedicated handlers and their K-9 partners, as well as mission-ready field support personnel and trainees. Our highly trained search dogs and their handlers specialize in Wilderness Airscent and Tracking/Trailing disciplines. They work with NJSAR’s ground searchers to maximize the team’s results in locating missing persons.

New Jersey Search and Rescue requires that K-9/handler teams pass the rigorous K-9 certification standards of the Search and Rescue Council of New Jersey. It usually takes 2 to 3 years to get a dog certified. Only certified dogs and their handlers may participate in searches. The dogs are all friendly and people oriented and they do not do patrol or bite work.

K-9 handlers are Field Team Leader qualified and must commit to several days per month of team training as well as extensive at-home training. Like all NJSAR members, K-9/handler teams search and train in rain, snow, cold, heat and in the middle of the night. In addition to all the K-9 handling skills required, all handlers are qualified in navigation, wilderness survival and patient care. K-9 handlers provide their own uniforms, personal gear, K-9 equipment and veterinary care and the search dogs live with their handlers.

Prospective handlers who want to join the New Jersey Search and Rescue K-9 Unit must attend a team meeting and join NJSAR. Candidates are first trained as ground searchers, and prospective handlers must be NJSAR team members FIRST, though in special and rare cases only, a prospective may simultaneously begin training as a K-9 handler. To have your dog evaluated by our skilled trainers or to discuss joining the K-9 Unit, please email k9@njsar.org. Dogs that are not trainee candidates or above on the NJSAR K9 unit are not permitted on team drills. It is not necessary to have a dog to join the NJSAR K-9 Unit.