Although each member of SCK9SAR is a volunteer, there are many rules and State laws that apply to each member.
Because we are involved in operations where lives are at stake, each member must be able to fully appreciate the significance of their position. Not all community members are comfortable in situations and conditions that exist in Search and Rescue (SAR). Each member must apply and become a registered member of the Skagit County Department of Emergency Management and carry a State of Washington Emergency Worker Identification Card. A background check is required. Do not assume that minor issues will disqualify you. However, certain criminal convictions are disqualifying
As volunteers, we buy a vast majority of our equipment ourselves. SAR K9 equipment can be expensive. Not only do we need to have all the personal safety and clothing items most other SAR units have but we need to equip our dogs.
The expense of a dog, in and of itself, can be significant.
While all of the dogs used in our unit are “part of their families,” our dogs are also working dogs and must be in top physical condition to withstand the physical demand involved in training to search. Dogs search for several hours at a time in a variety of terrain and temperatures. They must be up on all shots at all times and trips to the vet are not uncommon. Injuries can occur and can be minor or significant.
While most dogs can search, not all dogs are candidates for SAR work. We will evaluate each new dog and give feed back designed to assist in the decision whether to begin on the road to training a particular dog for our team. Contrary to some beliefs, young dogs with “no focus” or dogs with “too much energy” are likely good candidates for SAR because these dogs frequently thrive when given something fun to do and a consistent opportunity to complete fun tasks and get rewarded for their behavior. Even if your current dog does not end up being a good SAR prospect, you can still be a valued member of our team as a Technical Support member and if desired, get another dog more suited to the work. Any one interested in becoming a member must attend four (4) trainings without a dog and have their dog evaluated before starting to train a dog. This way, all prospective members can focus on how the team works and trains and learn the “ins-and-outs” of our training before turning their focus to their dogs. It is important that each handler learn and understand how training works and how the team trains before placing their dog in that environment. Thus, we take the time to work with prospective members before expecting them to join in our training group with a dog.
Our human members must also be in good physical and mental condition and available to train multiple times a month and respond to searches. SCK9SAR is not a social club and members are required to make a significant commitment. While vacation, illness and temporary family circumstances effect everyone, our members need to attend at least 50% of team training while on “active status.” Prior to becoming Certified our members must complete the Skagit County Ground SAR academy through the highest “Delta” level. The academy includes classroom training and in field training, including tough wilderness hikes and overnight exercises with the team. But it is not necessary to complete the academy before joining the K9 unit.
While SCK9SAR encourages members of other SAR teams to join, we do not have lateral acceptance of certified members. However, some prerequisites may be credited depending on a team’s status on the other team and the other team’s requirements and testing protocols. SCK9SAR is a double blind testing team and all teams must successfully complete a double blind certification test provided by SCK9SAR in order to be deployed.