Not every dog is cut out for search and rescue work. Some may have the heart for the job, but not the physical stamina. Others may be physically equipped, but don’t have the desire to climb on top of a 3-ton rubble pile in search of victims. To help canine search specialists determine if their dog is up to the job, TEEX and Texas Task Force 1 will hold the second 2004 open training day for disaster canines on July 18. TEEX hosts three open training sessions each year.
The workshop provides canine search and rescue organizations located within a four-hour drive of College Station an opportunity to learn about TX-TF1, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) standards and training for search dogs, and the methods for canine evaluation. Topics discussed include: overview of canine handler position, TX-TF1’s canine screening process, bark alert and reward system, agility, directionals and search.
The first 2004 open training session in March was attended by 37 canine handlers representing nine different fire departments and search and rescue teams.
“Overall the canine disaster workshop was a success,” said Jim Yeager, training coordinator for TEEX Urban Search & Rescue. “Handlers left with a tremendous amount of knowledge, which will help them train in any discipline and, therefore, provide the state of Texas with better canine teams.”
TEEX has been conducting canine disaster training for the Texas Task Force 1 canines since its beginning in 1997. This year’s open Disaster Canine Workshops are the first ones available to volunteer canine search teams in the state. “It is often difficult and expensive for the volunteer canine search teams to get quality training. To help, we offer these workshops for free,” Yeager said. The final 2004 workshop will be held Nov. 7.
In October, TEEX will also host a Canine Search Specialist Course for FEMA canines and their handlers from throughout the United States. The one-week course, which is funded by FEMA, is specially designed for the agency’s canine handlers and is a requirement to become a certified handler for TX-TF1. The course will incorporate several topics from the canine workshops.