Volunteering Opportunities For more information on volunteering with the team, please email Info@HSARDogs.org.uk. In your email, please let us know which area in Hampshire you live, confirm that you are 18+ years old and whether you are interested in an ‘operational’ or a ‘training support’ role (descriptions follow below).
There are three ways in which you can volunteer with Hampshire Search and Rescue Dogs: Dog Handler forming a team with your own dog, Operational Support providing support during live searches and at training Training Support or a “Dogzbody”. In addition we welcome interest from people who can support the team in a non-operational capacity such as through fund raising, PR or grant applications.The team trains twice a week on a Wednesday evening and one day at the weekends at various venues all over Hampshire. Training Support or “Dogzbodies” are essential to our team and come in many shapes,sizes and smells! As a Training Support you will be asked to ‘hide’ for our qualified Dogs to find you, or to help carry out training exercises with our younger, trainee dogs.
BODYING FOR THE DOG
All our dogs learn through experience so it is essential that we have a wide range of human smells for them to find. As a Training Support you must be willing to hide out in all weathers in various terrains for up to an hour or so. This is an excellent opportunity to read a book, contemplate the universe / your navel (whichever you wish!), have a nap or study the local wildlife. A Training Support must also show a love of dogs and a natural ability to play ball, throw, tug or fetch! A Training Support is an ideal opportunity to support Hampshire Search and Rescue Dogs for those that do not have as much time or commitment as others. It is also an excellent opportunity to understand more what Search and Rescue Dogs are about and to gain experience before potentially committing to further opportunities such as Operational Support or Dog Handler. We ask our Training Supports to commit to attending training once a month. An excellent opportunity for individuals to meet people, for Families to have fun together, and to exercise in the fresh open air!
BRIEFING FOR OPERATIONAL SEARCH
Operational Supports play a critical role in the life of our team. At each live shout a search dog team is comprised of the Dog Handler, the Dog and an Operational Support. The Operational Support deals with all navigation, communication, first aid and record-taking during the search and so must be an excellent all-rounder. This allows the Dog Handler to concentrate solely on working their Dog. As an Operational Support you must be physically fit and able to walk five miles in two hours carrying basic search equipment.Whilst no previous experience is necessary you must show an aptitude for the various elements of the role and be willing to qualify to a minimum of Lowland Search Technician standard and can progress to Team Leader standard. All training and support is provided and a commitment to attend regular training sessions is expected.
Dog Handler, ultimate in terms of volunteering with our team and one which requires huge dedication and commitment. As a Dog Handler you will train with your own young dog (generally less than 2 years old) to form a working partnership that is used on live searches to search for missing people.The handler and dog must qualify through a series of national assessments in order to become an operational team and this can take up to two years of training to become a fully trained and qualified area (level 3) team. As a handler you must be physically fit and able to walk five miles in two hours carrying basic search equipment. In addition you must complete a Lowland Search Technician Course and complete a period of Operational Support with our team or as a Search Technician in a Lowland Search Team prior to being considered as a probationary Dog Handler. Acceptance of this leads to a three month probationary period where your ability as a handler as well as the dog’s potential will be assessed.Following this there is an intensive period of training as a Trainee Dog Handler and Trainee Dog prior to formal qualification. Handlers are trained and assessed to national standards under the umbrella organisation ALSAR. The human beings in the team also qualify as Lowland Search Technicians through their local Lowland foot search team and the Association of Lowland Search and Rescue (ALSAR). The team has qualified operational dogs and Handlers available 24/7 all year round.