GPSAR - Greater Philadelphia Search and Rescue

A prospective canine unit member can attend 1 unit training session (without dog) to observe and ask questions. If there is still interest, the prospective member can attend a second training session (with dog). At the second session a preliminary evaluation (canine focus, handler control, and socialization) is conducted. After the second session a prospective member must submit an application and dues for team membership. The application is reviewed by team officers and then voted on by the team membership at the next meeting. At this point you are a probationary member and can participate in team/unit training.

GPSAR Canine Unit

The Canine Unit is one of several specialty units that makeup the GPSAR team. GPSAR's Canine Unit members are first and foremost ground search team members. In addition to dog training requirements, handlers must do the following:

  • Basic Search and Rescue (Callout Qualified)-3-6 months
  • First Aid/CPR-3-6 months
  • Basic Incident Command Systems-3 months
  • Animals In Disasters Awareness-3 months
  • Canine Unit Task Team Member-3 months
  • Search Management for the First Responder-12-18 months
These training courses are taught by GPSAR members certified by outside organizations such as the National Safety Council, or GPSAR members qualified in that skill, or are self study. Some courses require a nominal fee to cover materials. The majority of this training must be completed, usually in 3-6 months (training schedule permitting) during a member's 6-month probationary period. Other training is available depending on the interests of the member.

The canine unit does not require nor use one set of training rules or methods. The only rule is Do What Works For You and Your Dog. Here are a few good references, there are of course others:

1.Scent and the Scenting Dog by William G. Syrotuck
2.Practical Scent Dog Training by Lue Button
3.Search and Rescue Dogs Training Methods by American Rescue Dog Association

Still not sure? If you have any questions, email us and we'll try to answer as promptly as possible.

Canine Unit Requirements

  • 1 Canine Unit Field training per calendar month (based on 3 training sessions per month)
  • 1 Canine Unit Classroom training per calendar quarter (based on 2-3 training sessions per calendar quarter)
  • 1 Canine Unit Joint Training Exercise every 6 months (based on 4 exercises per calendar year)

The Canine Unit trains together as a unit approximately 2-4 times a month. Training is held in all types of weather and both day and night. However, a considerable amount of training must be accomplished at home (8-10 hours/week), especially in the early phases of training a search and rescue dog. Handlers are responsible for training their own dog. These unit training sessions are for progress evaluation, training problem resolution as well as additional search skill training. Canine Unit training is usually held in Southeastern Pennsylvania (Montgomery County area).

Name Breed Born
Barron German Shepherd 2005
Caesar German Shepherd 2007
Flash Beagle 2008
Luther Plott Hound 2007
Cinder German Shepherd 2014
* All dogs listed are field operational.