German Shepherd Dog Forums

German Shepherd Dog Forums (
-   Search & Rescue (
-   -   Very serious tracking ? shows my ignorance (

Strongheart 05-26-2008 06:41 AM

Very serious tracking ? shows my ignorance
I have a question about search and rescue and tracking. Yesterday I found myself in a profoundly tragic situation and a dog who could have tracked down an (unarmed) criminal fleeing on foot was badly needed. Do police ever use dogs belonging to civilians to do this if they are registered or certified in some way?

I live in an area where dogs like this would be very useful but of which there aren't many (which I found out today). And tracking is one of my dogs' (both of my GSDs that is) particular talents for the beginning training they have had in it, they excelled beyond anything else.

I cannot get this or the situation I refer to out of my mind and won't be able to for a very long time. Suddenly I felt very badly for having 2 GSDs who are not trained to their ultimate capability but whom both have such great potential.

ellen366 05-26-2008 09:04 AM

Re: Very serious tracking ? shows my ignorance
in my experience, no; sometimes police will allow civilian trackers for missing persons, but never for a criminal; the risks and dangers are very real; leave it to the pros

if you're really interested, approach your local police agencies and find out about part-time positions/auxillary/reserve; then you're a sworn officer and will be trained and able to respond to a hostile situation; for the police, the liability is huge

Amaruq 05-26-2008 10:27 AM

Re: Very serious tracking ? shows my ignorance
In certain situations our local dept has used dogs in this fashion. My Phoenix had a find in almost this exact scenario several years ago. We had also worked closely with our local LEO so they knew us and our dogs.

I will say it is extremely rare but like I said we had worked closely with the department on several other missing person cases. They also knew that he was unarmed.

Strongheart 05-26-2008 09:24 PM

Re: Very serious tracking ? shows my ignorance
This was a hit and run accident, fatal for one driver. The other driver kept driving but then crashed into a tree and fled on foot through a thickly wooded area. He must have been badly injured because his windshield had a crash spot in it. He was also drinking as there was a beer can in the drink holder.

But if Rocky had been with me and he was trained to do this (which he partially is now), would they have taken advantage of it considering that it apprently took them quite a long time to locate some local K9s and time is so critical in these situations?

They still have not found him.

Strongheart 05-26-2008 10:25 PM

Re: Very serious tracking ? shows my ignorance
Here's the story. This happened directly in front of me and I was the one who called 911.

Does anyone know if there is some advice on how I should deal with having witnessed something so traumatic and having been traumatized myself?

I have MS and am afraid this stress is going to bring on another attack, I just got over the last one.

dog27 05-27-2008 12:55 AM

Re: Very serious tracking ? shows my ignorance
After traumatic searches our search organization holds critical incident stress debriefings in order to manage the impact of the stress on those involved. You are right to seek help with this. I'm not exactly sure what organization would offer this assistance in your area, but I would start by contacting the police and/or EMS units that responded to this particular incident. Ask if they have anyone trained in Critical Incident Stress Management that you can talk with about this. Good luck.

To answer you original question, my volunteer unit does not search for live criminals that are not already in custody. Law enforcement officers are the ones who have the training and the directive to go after bad guys.

Strongheart 05-27-2008 01:50 AM

Re: Very serious tracking ? shows my ignorance
Thank you Jonathan.

I was really asking if my dog would have been lent out to be helpful in this type of situation, I wouldn't want anything to do with it obviously with my condition, I might have an attack on the spot, which almost happened yesterday although anyone on the scene probably thought I was very indifferent to the whole situation, I was trying to keep calm as possible so I wouldn't end up being the next person to need an ambulance. Plus all the flashing lights activates my optic neuritis and can send me reeling just from that.

I think my calmness helped the distraught husband also calm down but that he was also resentful of my apparent indifference. I do not externalize but rather internalize these things, as most MSers do. And there was enough panic going on as it was with all these people coming out of nowhere and 'taking charge' and barking orders. There were many traumatic aspects of the whole situation other than just seeing someone killed instantly in front of me.

I will call the police tomorrow and ask for help but frankly, in this rather rural area, it's hard to get the police concerned about these things. When my father called to sheriff's office back in April to ask them to go wake us up (we sleep during the day, DH a nigh shifter), to tell us my mother had been taken to ER, they refused and said it might cause a ruckus and upset the neighbors. So I don't really see them taking me seriously about this.

So your unit mainly look for injured people who might be buried in rubble or something?

I came home and hugged my sweet GSDs with all my might. I guess his main job will be to continue as centurion of this sanctuary along with his other 3 canine colleagues and to be my big furry squeeze.

I just hope they catch that guy or whoever did this horrible thing. But I fear they never will. I wish they would release his photo. It seems like that would be the best way to get him!!!!!

dog27 05-27-2008 02:30 AM

Re: Very serious tracking ? shows my ignorance

Originally Posted By: StrongheartI was really asking if my dog would have been lent out to be helpful in this type of situation
A SAR dog and handler function together as a team. Sometimes a dog certifies with multiple handlers so that either of them can handle the dog on a search. But search dogs are never lent out to strangers like this, AFAIK.


Originally Posted By: StrongheartSo your unit mainly look for injured people who might be buried in rubble or something?
We search for missing people. Lost hikers, hunters, children, dementia patients to name just a few types. Our dogs are trained in airscent and/or trailing, and some are cross-trained for cadaver and avalanche burials. There are more specialiized disaster dog units that train specifically for rubble burials.

NancyJ 05-27-2008 10:25 PM

Re: Very serious tracking ? shows my ignorance
Our unit is the same way. We do not search for criminals. We may search for crime victims and may be in harms way due to that [people tend to get murdered in some not so nice areas] but we do NOT, repeat do NOT do criminal searches.

And the dog and handler are a team, and all the certifications out there are for the handler dog combo because it really is a team as dog27 indicated. We have dogs trained in trailing, air scent, cadaver (land and water) and do not do disaster because that is such a specialty. [We are a typical wilderness unit]

I do know some civilians who help in this manner but they were required to go through classes [fairly extensive] and become reserve officers with the police department. One thing most SAR units have is significant LIABILITY insurance and you would need to be under someones insurance [team or PD] if they were to use you.

If you don't think the police department will help, maybe clergy at some local church, mosque, synagogue, etc. could help - it would be good to get it all out.

Strongheart 05-28-2008 01:23 AM

Re: Very serious tracking ? shows my ignorance
I went and gave my statement to the police tonight and talking to the deputy was therapeutic (same one who was the first on the scene) and he gave me info on resources available to victims/witnesses. It was good to discuss the whole thing with him and he was very kind. He also said they are very close to resolving the case which I was glad to hear of course.

I don't think our county can afford multi-purpose, highly trained GSDs like the county I used to live in.

But I am relieved to have talked to him and given my statement although I may have to testify later and I was asked if I might be apprehensive about doing so for personal safety reasons and I laughed that one off. Hey, I have two GSDs totally devoted to me! If anyone tried to hurt me, they'd meet a couple of land sharks in a feeding frenzy.

I also sent flowers to the family of the slain motorcyclist.

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 10:05 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2019 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2019 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome