Kent Dogs to the rescue
Dog owners wanted by local search & rescue dog team NSARDA Kent to join as volunteers
We are looking for dog owners to join us in order to become search and rescue volunteers.
NSARDA Kent is the local branch of the National Search and Rescue Dog Association (NSARDA). There may not be many lost climbers in this part of the country, but Kent Police often call for charities such as Kent Search and Rescue (KSAR) and NSARDA Kent to help bring vulnerable missing people home. They may for instance be despondent persons, dementia sufferers who may have become confused or children who have wondered away from home. Last year, both charities attended approximately 70 searches in Kent.
Search & rescue volunteers must be ready to commit to several training sessions every month and be able to travel across Kent. You can join with or without a dog, but NSARDA Kent is especially keen to hear from dog owners who would like to give their pet a chance to use their nose as dog teams can be such a critical asset on searches. They cover large area in a short time. James Dunn from Westerham is the charity chairman and explains “If someone is in trouble, needing medical assistance for instance, having dogs on the ground could mean finding them quicker and could be the difference between life and death.”
Many types of dogs can be suitable, including collies, labradors, German shepherds and spaniels. The dog and their owners are trained as a team so both must be reasonably fit to join. “We do not mind what a dog looks like or whether they have a pedigree, as long as they are happy to do the job, which dogs usually see as a giant hide and seek game”, says James Dunn, whose hovawart dog Venka was the first NSARDA dog in Kent. “Having a search dog is very rewarding. You train your dog to do something they enjoy, and when you get called out, you are part of an effort to bring someone back home to their love ones. You work together with the other volunteers, whether they are searching with or without dogs. It gives a great sense of purpose and being able to share this with your much loved pet is the icing on the cake.”
With some of the NSARDA Kent dogs having now retired, more dog teams are needed to join the dedicated group. Jo Kenny from Lyminge is the charity’s training officer and says: “Venka and my collie Bryn were the foundation of NSARDA Kent, and have been on countless searches since. There are other NSARDA Kent dogs operational or in training, but with Venka and Bryn now retired, we need to bring more dogs in our unit.”
Our training officer Jo Kenny will be organising ability assessments in April to test dogs for search potential, so this is the perfect time for Kent dog owners to consider becoming search and rescue volunteers. Jo Kenny explains “Our ability assessments look at the dog’s sociability, the relationship with their owners and more. It gives us a chance to see whether dog and owners could become a good search dog team.”
NSARDA Kent will also have representatives from NSARDA Kent at Pets at Home Sevenoaks on Saturday 28 March from 11am to 1pm, where they will be available to tell you more about the charity’s work and to answer questions.