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Information for Prospective Members

DOGS-East is a volunteer canine search and rescue group.  We respond to requests from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (DEM) as a state search and rescue resource. We are also called to assist on searches conducted by the State Police and other local and federal law enforcement offices.  Searches can come at any time, day or night, holidays, workdays, etc. The dedication of our members ensures that even at inconvenient times, we can respond and fill a request from Virginia DEM to help in a search effort. 

DOGS-East conducts official training each weekend in a group setting, however each member is expected to pursue training during the week as well.  Training once a week is simply not enough and your advancement would suffer if you only did the bare minimum.  Official training sessions are held around the state, but most are located in the Northern and Central Virginia areas.

Interested in attending a training session? Click here.

DOGS-East members train their dogs to recognize and alert on human scent. Bodies are always emitting scent, even after death. The basic sequence of the search pattern is SEARCH, ALERT, FIND, INDICATE, REFIND. The sequence parts are defined below:

SEARCH - The dog actively searches off-lead for any human scent it can detect. The handler guides the dog through the search area and must notice any behavior which indicates that the dog is detecting human scent.

ALERT - A noticeable change in behavior that can be observed by a handler and can be reported as a clue to search base, should the find not be made on that task.

FIND - Having detected scent, the dog follows the path which leads it to the lost subject.  It is not known exactly how the dog is able to do this.  One of several theories is that the dog detects higher concentrations of scent closer to the lost subject.

INDICATION - After locating the subject, the dog must return to the handler and communicate that the find has been made. This must be a reliable trained indication, otherwise the find could go undetected.

REFIND - The dog must lead the handler to the subject after communicating that the subject has been found. This ability allows rescue teams to be called in if necessary.

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