The K9 Search and Rescue Association of South Africa is a volunteer based unit that specialises in training civilian dogs to become a qualified search dog. The teams (dog and handler) are then used in operations which involve a search for lost or missing persons. The association partners with other volunteer search and rescue organisations as well as provide assistance to civil authorities in the case of search and rescue operations.
In December of 1992 a group of the Mountain Club’s Search and Rescue Unit witnessed the value contributed to searches by a trained K9 unit. Due to this experience it was concluded that establishing a South African K9 Search and Rescue unit to assist in searches would prove to be very beneficial to local authorities and other search and rescue units. This led to the founding of K9 SARA; a dedicated K9 search and rescue team who is available on a 24/7 basis, with dog-handler teams trained in wilderness, disaster, and water searches.
K9 SARA is a civilian volunteer non-profit organisation that trains civilian dogs for search and rescue work. Dog-handler teams are trained and groomed to achieve and maintain search ready status in order to assist civil authorities in operations, at any time and location, where search and rescue efforts are required.
K9 SARA aims to offer the highest quality dog-handler teams to be search ready and deployable at a moment’s notice across South Africa and into International search and rescue operations.
K9 SARA serves all people, be it individuals or groups, who are in need of assistance in terms of search and rescue operations. By affiliating ourselves with other civil authorities and search and rescue organisations, K9 SARA serves the public and the civil authorities within our mandate.
Estimated Response Times
Two fully operational units currently exist with a third unit in the process of starting to qualify dog-handler teams. The units collaborate to ensure that operations across the country can always be supported by at least one dog-handler team within a short response time, with additional teams being deployed as necessary. Please note that all response times are dependent on unit availability and external factors such as traffic and access.
Note: The response time is very dependant on various factors, including the accessability to the location, the availability of dog-handler teams, and complexity of the situation.
The different units are run independently, with separate committees who are in charge of decision making in the units. Annual meet-ups are held for the units where all the members come together in joint search simulations and training. During assessments of the dogs, committee members from different units will be requested to assist as assessors.
Currently K9 SARA has two fully operational units located in Gauteng and the Western Cape.