K9 Team

Volunteer handlers & their K9's provide another essential tool for our search teams.


What we do...

Our K9 Search & Rescue Team is just one more resource to aid us in finding lost persons. The dogs can be trained to follow the scent of a specific lost person (Trailing/Tracking), to find any person lost in a specific area (Airscent/Area), or 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 other technical support personnel to help with communications, navigation, first aid, and safety in the field.

If you're interested in becoming involved with KCSAR's K9 Team, please reach out to our K9 Team directly. In addition to those interested in being a K9 SAR handler and/or K9 Tech Support, we are always looking for volunteers to hide for our dogs at training. As a community member you're able to help at training one time. After attending one training if you decide you'd like to continue volunteering on a regular basis, you are welcome to follow our application procedure to become a member of KCSAR.




Requirements of an Active K9 Team:

Active K9 Teams are required to train multiple times a month, and maintain a high level of fitness both for themselves and their dog. All handlers must complete our Ground SAR Academy in order to be field ready. The Academy includes both in class and field training. Handlers and their K9's must also pass a certification test outlined in our policies and procedures in order to be deployed.



K9 Tech Support:

When on a search, ideally a handler's focus can be on watching their dog's behavior and making decisions accordingly. This would not be possible without tech support in the field and at base. Our handlers need support in communications, navigation, first aid and safety both out with them in the field as well as at base. K9 Tech Support is a much needed and very important position, and a way to be involved with our K9 team without working a SAR dog yourself (not that you can't do both!). 

Meet the Team!


Jim & K9 Ellie


Ellie is a hound mix who fell into Jim's lap by pure magic, and has become an amazing Trailing K9. She is a sweetheart of a dog with a nose that simply can't be beat. 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.

Jim’s thoughts on Ellie: When we went to look at a litter of 15 pups. We didn’t pick her, she picked us. She watched us from the back of the kennel as the other crazy pups were jumping around. She calmly came and checked us out. Then went to the back of the kennel and looked at us. I said we will take her. When it comes to Ellie, she a strong determined working dog. She is a wonderful family dog, and she is loving and gentle while  playing with the grandkids. 

But, in and instant, with a couple of commands or the sight of her working harness, she turns into a determined working dog. With one goal, to find that person who is in need or lost. We do this : So others may live. 

Maija & K9 Griffin


K9 Griffin is a Golden Retriever who decided Trailing was his life's work in middle age, certifying in Trailing in 2020 at the age of 9. Don't let the grey face fool you, a dog like Griff has energy like the Energizer Bunny. His favorite trailing trick is bringing the scent article with him on trail, and he'll do just about anything for food and a roll in the grass (or snow). Griffin's handler, Maija, has been with KCSAR since 2015, and is also a member of the Whitewater Rescue Team.

Maija's thoughts on Griffin: If life's one big party, Griff is certainly going to be in attendence. Anyone wanders off from that party, and he'll put his nose down to find out where they went. Work hard and play hard, it's how he lives life. I'm lucky to have a fun loving dog who is dedicated to working and loyal to his handler. 



Julia joined KCSAR in 2019 and quickly became interested and involved in the K9 Team. She has always wanted to become a SAR K9 handler herself, and will hopefully be adding a new puppy in training to our team next year! Julia offers technical support to our current K9 handlers and enjoys laying trails to hide for them when needed. The girl knows how throw a dog party!