K9 Teams: Beyond the Basics of Search and Rescue and Recovery

K9 Teams: Beyond the Basics of Search and Rescue and Recovery

by Vi Hummel Shaffer


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781550597622
Publisher: Brush Education
Publication date: 08/30/2018
Series: K9 Professional Training Series
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 1,114,377
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Vi Hummel Shaffer has 27 years experience as a volunteer K9 handler specializing in forensic human remains detection. She is also an instructor, speaker, and consultant in SAR/R, and is an associate instructor with Texas Forensic Associates. In 2002, Vi was appointed the national chairperson of the federal Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (DMORT) Mass Fatality K9 Standards and Requirements Committee by the director of the U.S. Office of Emergency Preparedness/National Disaster Medical Systems/Department of Health and Human Services. In 2003, her dog Mercy was recognized by the federal government as the first mass fatality K9 in the United States and as the inspiration for DMORT’s K9 program. Vi and Mercy, at the request of the FBI, were a part of Operation Noble Eagle, the victim recovery team at the Pentagon in the aftermath of 9/11.

Read an Excerpt


Prior to the mid-1990s, no differentiation was made between search and rescue (SAR) and search and recovery K9s. All such dogs were simply considered SAR dogs. There were no distinctive K9 search vests, T shirts, or uniforms that proclaimed “Recovery” as there are today. Due to the increased specialization in and information on training and working with human remains detection K9s, I use the abbreviation SAR/R to include both specializations.

This book is unique because it compiles sound, practical material collected at conferences, seminars, and workshops, as well as an immense array of comments made by instructors and handlers spanning over 26 years. It also offers new research findings, personal experiences, and numerous ideas and methods from across the United States and other countries.

K9 Teams: Beyond the Basics of Search and Rescue and Recovery examines a variety of issues, opinions, and questions that come up frequently in the SAR/R community but are not mentioned in other books. I used only a portion of my accumulated information in writing this book, so all concepts of training, and all facets in SAR/R, are not covered here. However, the sensitive subjects of glory seekers, frauds, “red flags,” politics in SAR/R, and credentials have been included to help others avoid some of the pitfalls many have experienced. Learning should come from many sources—no one knows everything, no matter what they claim or how extensive their knowledge appears to be.

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” – Earl Weaver, It’s What You

Learn After You Know It All that Counts This book is for all levels of K9 detection handlers and those interested in K9 detection work. It is not a step-by-step how-to book, and it does not reiterate what has already been published. Instead, it is meant to generate a broader frame of reference, to entice you to delve into areas related to your search discipline and contemplate what you have learned already. Many books and articles related to SAR/R are quite technical; this book employs straightforward language that is accessible and easy to understand, no matter what scent discipline you work.

The Internet makes it easy to research subjects and enhance training and understanding—though one must be careful about the reliability of the information. Nothing takes the place of an experienced, credible, hands-on instructor for guidance. Although an idea may be good, it may not be right for you, your dog, or the current stage of training.

K9 Teams includes some of my own material and informed opinions based on lessons learned, but the vast majority of the tips and information come from a multitude of SAR/R professionals, K9 handlers, and experts from around the world. Most of the time I do not attach the names of individual handlers to remarks and ideas, for a couple of reasons. First, many ideas in this book come from my notes taken at a seminar or training session where it was unclear who made the sound, viable comment. Second, there is a common expression in the SAR/R community: “The only thing two handlers can agree upon is what the third handler is doing wrong.” Therefore, the focus herein is on the information—not the person who said it. In this way, I hope K9 Teams will share ideas and open minds to different ways toward and thoughts about accomplishing a worthy goal. Whether you initially agree with the material in this book or not, I hope you will ask yourself: Is it logical? Does it make sense?

“… every difference of opinion, is not a difference of principle.” – Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1804

Throughout this book the words “TEAM,” and “organization” will be used interchangeably. “TEAM” or “organization” means a group of people that has met preconditions and allied itself with a specific search and rescue organization. However, the word “team” (in lower-case letters) refers to one dog and one handler. SAR/R terminology differs throughout the United States and around the world. The words “indicating” and “alerting” can be particularly confusing. For some, “indicating” means the dog is working in a way that shows he has detected the target odor and “alerting” is what the dog does to confirm he has located the source of the target odor. For others, the meanings for those words are reversed. In 2006 another term, “final response” (FR), was added by The Scientific Working Group on Dog Orthogonal Detector Guidelines (SWGDOG). While some organizations have begun using this term, others have not. To avoid overwhelming readers with a profusion of acronyms and confusing terms, I use the word “alert” to describe the dog’s final action: when he has located the source of the target odor.

Table of Contents

The Purpose of This Book
1. The Beginning: What It’s All About
2. K9 Search Disciplines: An Overview
3. Joining a TEAM
4. The Process of Membership
5. TEAM Standards, Procedures, and Bylaws
6. Evaluating Puppies and K9 Selection
7. The Dog’s Nose
8 Developments in Understanding Scent
9. K9 Trainers
10. Basics in K9 SAR/R Training
11. Understanding Training Methods
12. Training Sessions
13. Training Areas
14. Field Training
15. The Scent Article
16. Training Scenarios for Live-Victim Searches
17. Training Is Training, and Testing Is Testing
18. The Controversy over Cross-Training
19. TEAM Training Sessions
20. Seminars and Workshops
21. Certifications
Prelude to Human Remains Detection, Dr. William M. Bass, DABFA
22. What Is Cadaver / Human Remains Detection?
23. Odor of Death
24. Training Materials or Scent Sources
25. Handling and Storage of Training Aids
26. Training Materials Myths and Misconceptions
27. Introducing Odor, Imprinting, and Search Commands
28. The Alert
29. Training for Human Remains Detection
30. Law Enforcement and SAR/R
31. Search Briefings and Searches
32. Major Disasters and Mass Fatalities
33. Searching in Mass Fatality Incidents
34. Mass Fatality K9 Team Training
35. Emotions, Stress, and Post-Traumatic Stress
36. K9 Teams and Court
37. Websites and Social Media
38. Politics, Egos, Glory Seekers, Frauds, and Misunderstandings
A Final Note

What People are Saying About This

Billy Smith

This is an excellent book that has been needed for years! Great for all interested in detection dog work, from beginners to seasoned trainers, in addition to the law enforcement agencies who use them.

Harold “Ben” Bennett

This book explores areas that have not been discussed in publication before. It’s a must read for all scent detection K9 handlers and those who want to become one.

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