Two new teams underwent assessment last Sunday and have successfully passed all of the required testing to become operational search and rescue teams.
It was an interesting day for the assessment with wild weather causing wind gusts and sudden changes in wind direction throughout the searches but both teams took this in their stride and worked their dogs to the conditions.
Introducing kelpie Summer and her handler Zeffie
and aussie shepherd Maverick and his handler Kristie
Both teams have worked exceptionally hard towards their assessment and have spent many hours juggling training, family life and their working life to make this possible. In addition to training their clever canines, both teams also undergo training through DFES in radio field communications, navigation and land search as a team member. We are very proud to have you both as operational handlers within the unit and know that the public will be well looked after in your hands (and paws).
If you're wondering whether or not a search dog would be useful for your search, click here or find our page on Area Search Dogs vs. Tracking Dogs.
You can also contact us for further information as the weather, environment and/or timing can help or hinder a search dog. Handlers will be able to give an objective assessment as to whether the dogs will be useful.
We are also happy for you to come to one of our training days and observe the dogs at work!
If you've been following our Facebook page or Twitter, you will probably have seen the many changes that our unit has undergone in the last few years. But if you haven't, here is a quick summary to keep you up to date:
We are a Unit
About two years ago, the State Emergency Services recognised us as a unit. Previous to this, we were known as the SES Canine Section. This means that there are a few administrative changes but in terms of training and deployment, it's business as usual.
SWORD - Knights in shining armour with their faithful hounds?
Not quite. The Canine Unit, along with mounted, communications support, logistics and a volunteer firefighter unit now come under the State Wide Operational Response Division (SWORD). Based out of Kewdale, Western Australia, SWORD is a logistical base that allows various units to mobilise quickly and also provide logistical support to operations across Western Australia. It's the first of its kind in Western Australia although these sorts of facilities are quite common in the eastern states.
Old dogs, new dogs, new tricks?
We have several new faces around the unit including those of the furry kind and we've also had to say goodbye to some as well. If you check out our pages on the side menu, you can see which are the operational dogs, what they do and our retired dogs.
The land down under!
We now have a Southern Section attached to our unit. This provides a search dog capability in the southern region of Western Australia. Although our metro based handlers can respond to searches all across Western Australia (we've received and responded to callouts in the Wheatbelt, Midwest Gascoyne, South West and Great Southern), the southern section allows area search dogs and a tracking dog to respond quickly to emergencies in this area.
That's all folks
We will slowly be updating the blog to contain information on the types of dogs we train, what you can do to help us (even if you're not interesting in being a handler) and where you can find us at events. For more information, contact us on the forms located on the side menu or message us through Facebook or Twitter.
What a busy but fun filled winter camp in Karrakup for the SES Canine Section. Among the weekend's exercises included night searches, first aider/responder (when locating a casualty on a search), map and navigation work, radio communications as well as games and bonding with fellow team members, both human and canine alike. The dogs loved searching through the bushland through wet conditions and even located a couple of local scout groups!
All in all a fantastic weekend. It was great for teams to consolidate learnt skills and techniques and also to engage in some social time.
Special thanks to Rosie & Cathryn for organising the venue, to Leonie for coordinating, to Stephanie for organising social games, to all 'bodies' for hiding, Matt for keeping us well fed and to all members who pitched in.
Sunday 19th April saw the successful grading of Rosie & Atlas and Cathryn & Holly, becoming new operational area search teams. Both teams were successful with their assessment searches overseen by WA Police dog handler, George Bogunovich and Canine Section assessor/SME, Ian Spreckley. Both teams have put in many, many hours of training and have worked very hard to get to this point and should be proud of their new operational status.
A special thank you to George for being an assessor, to our DFES District Officer Kate Parkey for all your help and support, to Josh, Tegan and Katie and all 'bodies' who gave up their time to hide for the dogs today and all involved in the lead up to this assessment.
CONGRATULATIONS ROSIE & ATLAS AND CATHRYN & HOLLY!
Congratulations to advanced handler Chris and Loki who were successful with their assessment this morning and have now become an operational scent-specific tracking team. Chris is also our first member to become a dual-handler, having both an area search dog, Piper and a scent-specific tracking dog, Loki.
Thank you to 'dogs bodies' Josh, Robert and Stephanie and to assessors Barry from the WA Police Dog Squad and our Subject Matter Expert, Ian. Thank you to our DFES District Officer Kate for your presence as well.
** STANDBY** Area search teams Chris & Piper and Steph & Karma are on standby for deployment to the Sandstone search tonight.