K9 Team

Volunteer handlers and their K9's provide an essential capability for our search teams.


What we do...

K9s are an invaluable tool for finding lost persons and can detect human scent in a variety of conditions, including under water, in snow, and in crowded urban areas. Our dogs are trained to follow the scent of a specific lost person (Trailing/Tracking), to work offlead to find human scent in a specific area (Airscent/Area), and to find deceased persons (HRD). We train regularly in all conditions and terrain so we're prepared to help when the call comes in. Our team consists of trained SAR K9s and their handlers, as well as technical support personnel who help with communications, navigation, first aid, and safety in the field.

Our K9 Teams train multiple times a month, and maintain a high level of fitness both for themselves and their dogs. All handlers have completed the Ground SAR Academy and their K9's must also pass state or national K9 certification tests in order to be deployable.



Interested in Volunteering?

Volunteers are needed to play 'Hide and Seek' with the KCSAR K9s.

We need your help training our K9 search teams. In order to properly train our dogs to find lost people, they need to practice finding 'strangers.' If you like dogs and the outdoors please consider volunteering. Volunteering is typically a couple hour committment that consists of a short hike, followed by the opportunity to sit in one of the gorge scenic areas waiting to be found by our K9s. Once our K9s bring their handlers to you, you'll help reward them by providing a game of fetch, tug, or treats and pets.

Volunteers are needed for our weekly Friday afternoon and occasional weekend trainings in various locations througout the gorge. Please email us if you are interersted in learning more.


Prospective K9 Team Members:

If you’re interested in joining the SAR K9 team, as a handler or tech support, you will need to complete an application to become a KCSAR volunteer. Every volunteer must go through the academy, qualify as a ground searcher, and pass both physical fitness and written tests for the Washington State Sheriff’s Association. During this time, you are welcome to become part of the K9 team and join trainings.

Training a SAR K9 is rewarding, but requires a significant time and financial commitment.  In addition, our most successful dogs are working breeds that require a lot of exercise and training. On average it takes at least 2 years for a team to be ready to take their certification tests. During that time expect to train at least twice a week, in addition to regular obedience, socialization, and handler skills (first aid, map and compass, GPS, radio communications, wilderness survival skills, scent theory, man-tracking, and search strategy). Once certified you will still train on a regular basis, in addition to being available 24/7 for searches.

Please feel free to email us with further questions. We welcome members of the public to come observe and hide for our dogs at a training to see if this might be the right fit. 

Meet the Team!


Jim & K9 Ellie


Ellie is a hound mix certified in Trailing. When it's time to work, Ellie puts everything she has into finding her subjects. Her favorite reward at the end of a trail is cheese, and she loves puppuccinos after a job well done. Jim & Ellie are both founding members of the KCSAR K9 Team, Jim has been with KCSAR since 2019, and he is also a member of Wasco County SAR in Oregon.

Molly & K9 West & K9 Gloria


K9 West is a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon certified in area and HRD. West first certified with CARDA in 2018 and is always ready to deploy, whatever the mission or conditions. He can frequently be found carrying his search gear around the house.

K9 Gloria is a Belgian Malinios certified in area and HRD. She was found as a stray in 2022 and spent several months at Hood River Adopt-a-Dog, while the staff worked to find her the right working home. She was named by Molly's kids for the children's book, Officer Buckle and Gloria, because of her antics and athletic leaps.

Molly has been active in K9 SAR since 2007, initially with CARDA and Yosemite National Park SAR and now with Klickitat County and Hood River County. She has responded to numerous missions with her canine partners from crime scene to multi-day backcountry searches. Professionally, she is trained as a disaster epidemiologist.

Julia & K9 Jovi


Jovi is a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (Toller) certified in wilderness area. Julia joined KCSAR in 2019 and has been active as a ground searcher and with the K9 and ropes teams.  Jovi loves finding people, but her favorite thing is jumping on Julia to let her know she has made the find and leading her to the subject.