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The Importance of Dogs in Search and Rescue Missions

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Dogs have been used for years as part of rescue teams; they are particularly useful in mountain rescues and when searching for missing people in difficult situations.  The main reason that dogs are used in search and rescue missions is because of their impressive ability to small.  It may not be obvious to us, but every single human being as a unique scent, this scent is carried across the airwaves where a dog can locate it through the sensitive receptors in their nose.  This will then enable them to track the scent and follow the path you have taken.  All that is required before a dog can locate a scent is an example of the scent they are looking for.

Dogs naturally have exceptionally good senses of smell but this is not enough to make a good search and rescue dog.  Each dog must go through an extensive training program; the process of picking up a human scent in the air is actually very easy for a dog to learn.  This is the reason why dogs are generally taught to track and trail before they progress to air scent training.  It is generally very difficult for a dog which has been successfully air scent trained to learn to track or trail.


There are many areas of the world which are relatively difficult to access or are significant in size.  This can make it very difficult for any search and rescue team to find a missing person without an exact location.  A well trained dog can be an essential assistant team as they will be able to smell a specific individual long before a human can locate the missing person.  Indeed there are several reasons why a dog is such an important addition to any search and rescue mission:

  • Resources

Even something as important as searching for missing people requires financing.  The majority of professional rescuers need to be paid and the facilities which support them also cost money.  No matter how simple the rescue team, it is not advisable to send one person out by themselves looking for a missing person or people.  Fortunately, instead of using valuable finances to cover the cost of two people, rescue bases can choose to use one person and a dog.  The available resources will go much further.

  • Availability

A person and dog team can be located anywhere; meaning they may be able to offer a faster response time than if all rescuers will based at the same spot.  Because the dog lives with the trained rescuer it is possible for any search and rescue mission to start immediately.  There is no need to wait for the rest of the team.

  • Reassurance

Some of the places where search and rescue teams are based around the world are very inhospitable.  This means there could be wild animals; a dog will know where they are long before a human does and will even protect its owner from any wild animal.  This is often enough to keep the animals away and is an often unappreciated benefit.

The dog is also a reassuring figure to anyone stuck or lost; they will know help is at hand, even if they cannot see them.


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