Alpha Search + Recovery receives quite a few questions about how to join the team and how to help. Here are some of our most common questions with answers. If you have a question not answered here, please feel free to reach out to us!
Volunteer or Donate! We are always looking for new members with and without canines. Monetary or equipment donations are very helpful as Alpha Search + Recovery receives no funding and is run out of grants and our own expenses.
Alpha Search + Recovery team training is offered free of charge (except for yearly dues). While trainings are free, team member have to pay for their own equipment and do pay for many outside trainings and certifications on their own.
We recommend coming out to a few trainings to make sure you understand what Alpha SAR is about and are truly interested in joining. You may request an application and upon approval and dues paid you will be recognized as a team member. Check out how to join here for more details.
To be eligible a a deployable team member, you are expected to complete a specific set of skills found in our task book. Tasks are basic understanding of searches, safety, navigation, etc. and training is provided by the team. This minimum requirement ensures everyone has the skills needed to safely and effectively go out on a search.
We train on a weekly basis as an entire team (usually on weekends) and hold additional training sessions during the week for handlers to focus on canine training. Weekend trainings last 3 to 4 hours while weeknight handler training sessions last 1 to 2 hours.
Alpha Search + Recovery dogs belong to the owners who train them and are members of their family. Alpha Search + Recovery trains dog/handler teams; we will help train you to train your dog and form a dog/handler bond.
The breed of dog is not as important as the dog’s motivation and drive. The best dogs for search and rescue are the dogs with “high drive” or love toys and will do anything to get them.
Before the training process begins, Alpha Search + Recovery will evaluate the drive and socialization of the dog. Dogs must be comfortable around new people and new dogs since they will be working in that environment.
For each deployable handler and canine team, three to four people are needed for other search aspects including: radio communication; navigation (compass and GPS); clue awareness; and safety. Every member of a search team is integral to a successful and safe search. The team will not deploy without enough members to ensure everyone’s safety.
Team members need to wear adequate clothing (may encounter thick brush, heat, cold, etc.) and carry a pack containing water, first aid, and navigation equipment. Additional equipment may be needed for the canine handlers and technology specialists. The searcher’s personal equipment is an individual preference and is the responsibility of the individual. Alpha SAR will provide a team uniform for full team members once they have completed initial training. However, having the equipment is not an up-front requirement to attend training. Adequate clothing, footwear, and water are the minimum requirements to attend trainings. to ensure everyone’s safety.