Search dogs added to pair of Okanagan search and rescue teams | Penticton News | iNFOnews

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Search dogs added to pair of Okanagan search and rescue teams

Oliver/Osoyoos Search and Rescue dog handler Mike Arychuk, left, and Kaya is pictured with Central Okanagan Search and Rescue dog handler Terry Downs and Chase, in this submitted photo.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Joey Thompson
September 28, 2020 - 11:21 AM

The Central Okanagan Search and Rescue and Oliver/Osoyoos Search and Rescue teams added search dogs Chase, a Labrador retriever, and Kaya, a German shepherd, to their respective ranks on the weekend, according to a media release from the two search groups.

Both dogs recently received validation from the RCMP Police Dog Services at a training course held this past week in Merritt.

Civilian dog handlers and their dogs must be validated as a civilian dog search team by the RCMP when engaged as members of recognized search and rescue groups.

"We are looking forward to have our dogs aid in search and rescues in the Okanagan and surrounding areas. When we are needed, the RCMP will task us through the Provincial Emergency Program.” Chase’s handler Terry Downs said in the release.

"Dogs have a great sense of smell, but they also have superior hearing and night vision. This can help save time, and time is of the essence in a search. One search dog can be the equivalent of 20 to 30 human searchers,” Kaya’s handler Mike Arychuk from Oliver/Osoyoos rescue said in the release.

The two dog handlers are also active members of their ground search teams. A K9 handler puts around 2,000 hours of unpaid training time over the first two years in addition to spending thousands to care for the dogs, often at the dog handler’s expense.

Some funding is available through provincial and regional government programs, with other funding coming from fundraising efforts.

Both teams can be contacted through their Central Okanagan SAR or Oliver/Osoyoos SAR Facebook pages for more information.

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