Arizona Search Dogs

Arizona Search Dogs is a nonprofit (501c3) organization


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Arizona Search Dogs Deployed to Washington State Mudslide

Posted by azsearchdogs on April 3, 2014 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (1) 





Two dog handlers and their canines from the Phoenix Fire Department/Arizona Task Force One (AZ-TF1) are being deployed to assist in the search and recovery efforts following the severe mudslides that occurred March 22, 2014, in Snohomish County, Washington.


Twenty-two people are still missing under the 1,500 foot-wide mudslide area.


Arizona Search Dogs and their handlers are mobilized with FEMA Urban Search and Rescue task forces. Each canine and handler team must be certified through FEMA in search and rescue. There are less than 200 certified canine and handler teams in the United States.


Disaster canines are trained to locate victims and indicate the position where the strongest scent is found with a focused bark alert. It is a highly specialized team.


Arizona Task Force 1 is one of 28 National Urban Search and Rescue teams prepared to deploy in response to local or national disasters. Task forces are located throughout the United States.


The AZ-TF1 deployment began on March 25, 2014.


Teddy Bear day 2012

Posted by azsearchdogs on September 14, 2012 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Teddy bears and dogs: good times for good cause

By Bette Sharpe, Special to The Glendale Star The Glendale Star | 0 comments

For more than 100 years, America has had a love affair with teddy bears, the enduring toy named for President Theodore Roosevelt. Whether it’s Pooh with his honey pot, or the cloud-hopping Care Bears, everyone has grown up with some type of cherished stuffed bear. Bear lovers gathered Sept. 8 to celebrate Teddy Bear Day in historic downtown Glendale in a fun-filled event for all ages.

Arizona Search Dogs search demonstrations was one of many events held Saturday. Free events included creating a chocolate bear at Cerreta’s, bear coloring at Papa Ed’s, make-and-take bear bracelets at Pink House, and decorating teddy bear cookies at Shelley’s Specialty Desserts.

Visitors were urged to first visit the Glendale Visitor Center, 5800 W. Glenn Drive, Suite 140, where they could pick up a map of participating merchants, coupons and a gift bag. The Visitor Center collected donated teddy bears and other stuffed animals for the Glendale Fire Department Trauma Teddy Program, the Glendale Crisis Response Team and United Way. The teddy bears and animals provide comfort to young children who have been affected by a traumatic event. Those who knew the value of a cuddly animal donated their bears. Some of the bears had been with their original owners for a very long time.

By 2 p.m. Saturday, the Visitor Center had filled three truck loads of stuffed toys. This year’s donation total surpassed last year’s total of 1,600; more than 2,424 teddy bears were donated. The collection of teddy bears on Teddy Bear Day is an important part of the unique Glendale event. The majority of the donated are ready for new homes. The bears and other critters will be welcomed by children across the Valley.

Search and Rescue Dog Teams

Participants at Teddy Bear Day also were treated to demonstrations from search and rescue dog teams, who practiced job skills and training exercises they must go through before joining the team.

-Each canine and handler team must be certified through FEMA in search and rescue.

-For the handler, certification includes written and verbal testing regarding search-and rescue strategies, briefing skills, and canine handling skills.

-For the search-and-rescue canine, certification includes proper command control, overcome innate fears of tunnels and wobbly surfaces under the guidance of the handler.

-Certification for each Canine Search Specialist Team (Dog and Handler) requires the canine and handler to pass a FEMA sanctioned evaluation process administered with rostered USAR evaluators.

-Currently there are less than 200 such certified teams throughout the United States.

Hoss and Dually Recertify Feb. 2012

Posted by azsearchdogs on September 14, 2012 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Hoss and Dually recertified along with thier handlers.

Please see the following article from our friends at

Natural Paws Wags it Forward

Posted by azsearchdogs on April 19, 2012 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)



DECEMBER 28, 2011 - After more than two weeks of taking fan recommendations for favorite animal adoption and service organizations, Natural Paws has narrowed it down and chosen 7 organizations to receive a total of $1,200 in product donations this holiday season. It's the company's way of saying "thanks" to their fans, as well as thanking the organizations for their great philanthropy and sacrifice. The product donations can be used to help raise funds for the organizations in raffles and silent auctions, gifted to adoptive families, or used in their foster homes while awaiting placement.

The Top Dog winner, receiving 20 bottles of Sweet Pea's ActivePaws valued at a total of roughly $400, is Arizona Search Dogs, a nonprofit organization that trains, certifies, and develops Canine Search Specialist teams to be mobilized with USAR (Urban Search & Rescue) Task Forces. Their heroic teams have been deployed to the World Trade Center, The Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, all major national disaster responses, and local searches for Phoenix Valley residents. Natural Paws' holistic & organic products will help to heal, strengthen and provide anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal relief for these heroic dogs' hard-working paw pads.


We ould like to think the great folks at Natural Paws for selecting The Arizona Search Dogs to recieve thier great product. We are honored to be selected!

Local store and K-9 rescue dogs raise money for Officer Jones family

Posted by azsearchdogs on February 24, 2012 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)



By KATHRYN STAFFORD, Staff WriterThe Glendale Star | 0 comments

Glendale residents have the chance to watch K-9 search and rescue dogs in action and even participate by acting as one of the victims, during a fun event designed to raise money for Officer Brad Jones' family.

The charity event was designed to benefit fallen Glendale Police Officer Brad Jones' family. The event is aptly named "It's a Bear Hunt," and will take place this Saturday Feb. 25th at Myrtle and Palmaire avenues in downtown Glendale. During the event several K-9 search dogs will be conducting a live search for people who wish to participate.

The work done by these highly trained dogs involves reward and play-type incentives so each person will receive a bear and the victims will reward the dogs with a bear once they are found. The toy bears have been donated by Bears and More, a quaint and unique shop in downtown Glendale.

"This exercise will assist the dogs in reaching their level of training hours that are critical for this service," said John Dean with Arizona Search Dogs. "We are excited to partner with Glendale businesses and the downtown community to raise money for fallen officer Brad Jones' family."

Dean said the dogs are trained to specifically search only for people that are visible knee-high from the ground or lower. "They know to completely ignore standing humans," he said. "This way they know to search for people who are injured, hidden, or partially buried in a ruble pile.

Dean currently works with a black lab named Ben. The apples don't fall far from the tree; Ben and his two brothers all serve as certified search and rescue K-9s. Ben became certified as 18 months, and although he is a veteran at 4-years-old he has the energy and friendliness of a puppy. Dean said Ben's favorite toy or reward for finding a hidden victim is a stuffed toy grey mallard duck.

Dean has worked with search and rescue dogs for several years and even took one of his former search and rescue dogs to ground zero after the attacks on the World Trade Center Sept. 11, 2001.

"This is the first time we've done this kind of event in downtown Glendale, and we encourage residents and visitors to take advantage of this event fundraiser," said Glendale CVB Manager Lorraine Pino.

Valerie Burner has been the owner of Bears and More in downtown Glendale, for 20 years. Burner said she was approached by Dean last summer and together they hatched the idea for the event, which originally was going to raise money for the Arizona K-9 search and rescue program. However, once Dean had heard about Officer Brad Jones' passing, he decided to donate the money to Jones' family instead.

"It's a double good, because we are helping the dogs train and stay certified, but we are also raising money for a family that lost their daddy," Burner said.

Burner said multiple local businesses helped out with the event, donating goods and money. Pratt's Feed and Pets Supply, Ty, and Super Embroidery were a few of the businesses which donated services.

Participants will need to register, sign a waiver, and pay a $10 registration fee. Check in will begin at 7:30 a.m. with the first hunt beginning at 8:30 a.m. Each person will have about 10 to 15 minutes to hide along the street and alleys before the dogs are released to find them.

In addition to the live search, raffle prizes will be offered. PetSmart has also donated a $100 gift card. Event sponsors include Glendale Civic Pride Ambassadors, Cabela's, Glendale Convention Visitor's Bureau (CVB), Arizona Search Digs and Bears and More. For more information, call 623-930-4500 or

Phoenix hosts K-9 FEMA certification test

Posted by azsearchdogs on November 22, 2011 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

By: Imani Randolph

PHOENIX - When disaster strikes, emergency personnel will often turn to our canine friends to rescue survivors and get them out of harm's way.

FEMA requires that these dogs have Disaster Preparedness Certification .

Once they pass, the dogs and their handlers can be called upon to help local emergency personnel, assist in rescues for a national disaster and even help during an international crisis.

The evaluation, put on by AZ-TF1, includes a test of K-9 obedience, agility, alert behavior, and handler skill.

Some dogs begin their rescue careers as 8-week-old puppies, others come from rescue shelters.

To become a Disaster Search Dog doesn’t take a specific breed, just an energetic dog, commitment, 2,000 hours of training and completion of a test like the one administered at the Phoenix Fire Special Operations Saturday.

Mac is a dog that came to the Phoenix Search and Rescue Task Force from the Arizona Humane Society.

Mac and 23 other dogs were put through a test that involved searching 15,000 square foot rubble sites to find victims who had been buried alive.

They had to ignore distractions like food, clothing and toys.

Just one false alert meant they failed the test.

Mac had to retake the test and passed this time around. His handler says help from dogs like Mac is invaluable.

“They're our partners and they're with us for the rest of their lives and personally I think we're the ones that are blessed," Don Peyton added.

Read more:

K-9s chase 'Disaster Search Dog' certification

Posted by azsearchdogs on November 22, 2011 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

By Phil Benson - email



Search dog trainingPHOENIX (KPHO) - Twenty-four canines and their search specialist handlers from across the nation were in Phoenix over the weekend to take the FEMA disaster preparedness certification test.

The evaluation includes a test of canine obedience, agility, alert behavior, and handler skill.

Once certified, the teams will be readily deployable to national emergencies like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.

To qualify as a Disaster Search Dog, the animal is subjected to 2,000 hours of training. The test involves the dog searching two 15,000 square foot rubble sites, finding completely buried live victims and ignoring distractions such as hamburgers, steak, clothing and dog toys. A false alert on anything except a live victim is an automatic failure.

A handler may look at 20 to more than 100 dogs before finding a canine partner that has the qualities and drive to do this type of work.

In some cases, a rescued dog from a local shelter is brought into the program. Other search dogs begin their careers as eight-week-old pups.

Once certified, the dog and handler are able to deploy to international, national or local disasters with a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue team, such as the task force in Phoenix - AZ-TF1. AZ-TF1 - manned by Phoenix firefighters. The task force has been deployed to disasters, including the World Trade Center and hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike.

Phoenix Fire Disaster Search dogs are also used locally to find missing people. These local searches can be for a missing toddler, Alzheimer's patient or an injured hiker.

Copyright 2011 KPHO. All rights reserved.

FEMA search dogs undergo training, certification in Arizona

Posted by azsearchdogs on November 22, 2011 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

When people are buried in the rubble of a natural disaster or worse, man's best friend might be their only hope.

As Ryan O'Donnell explains, these incredible dogs need to be certified by FEMA before they can do their life-saving work.

Glendale Daily Planet's photographer/reporter Bette Sharpe is the first place award recipient for 'BEST FEATURE PHOTOGRAPH' in the online division in the Arizona Newspapers Association's 2011 Better Newspapers Contest.

Posted by azsearchdogs on October 30, 2011 at 1:10 AM Comments comments (0)
Glendale Daily Planet's photographer/reporter Bette Sharpe is the first place award recipient for 'BEST FEATURE PHOTOGRAPH' in the online division in the Arizona Newspapers Association's 2011 Better Newspapers Contest.
Arizona Newspapers Association and Arizona Associated Press Managing Editors held an awards banquet following a day of informational conference presentations on October 15, 2011 at the Chaparral Suites Resort in Scottsdale.

The photo, "A happy ending--dog finds man", shown below, was the winning entry. This photograph appeared on the Glendale Daily Planet in an article on National Teddy Bear Day September 11, 2010 . It appeared in the Glendale Star in printed form also. Every year the Arizona Search Dogs appear at the Teddy Bear event to perform and provide education to the public about their mission.

2011 Teddy Bear Day

Posted by azsearchdogs on September 24, 2011 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Another neat addition to this yearly celebration of bears was the Bears and More sponsorship of Arizona Search Dogs.

Arizona Search Dogs took on an obstacle course on the lawn in front of Bears & More and AZ Dolls and Gifts. Arizona Search Dogs is a nonprofit organization that trains, certifies, and develops Canine Search Specialist teams. These teams are mobilized with Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Task Forces to assist state and local jurisdictions in urban and wilderness search and rescue. Some of our team members have been deployed to the World Trade Center, The Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, flooding in Houston, Texas, Dallas Fort Worth tornado, New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, Hurricane Gustav, Hurricane Ike in the Gulf Coast, and local searches for Valley residents.

Hoss to the rescue

Posted by azsearchdogs on September 12, 2011 at 11:20 PM Comments comments (0)


Homeland Defense Bureau and Phoenix Fire Department Captain John Dean is pulled to safety by Arizona Search Dog Hoss during a demonstration Sept. 11 in Historic Downtown Glendale. The search dogs were a special attraction of the annual Teddy Bear Day to benefit Glendale Fire Department’s Trauma Teddy Program. See page A16 for more about Saturday’s event.

Training for Tragedy: Urban Search and Rescue Team

Posted by azsearchdogs on September 12, 2011 at 10:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Training for Tragedy: Urban Search and Rescue Team

Updated: Friday, 09 Sep 2011, 9:56 PM MST
Published : Friday, 09 Sep 2011, 9:56 PM MST

PHOENIX - In the days after 9/11, they answered the call for help -- members of the Phoenix Fire Department's Urban Search and Rescue team.

We talked with one firefighter who, along with his search and rescue dog, made the trip to ground zero.

John Dean and 60 other firefighters headed to NYC after 9/11.

FOX 10's Andrew Hasbun talked to Dean and got an inside look at the training an urban search and rescue team undergoes.

Chance receives the 2011 Friends of Animal Care and Control Hero Award

Posted by azsearchdogs on September 12, 2011 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Animals abandoned and left to die; animals who have survived heinous acts of cruelty; animals who provide a service to their humans on a daily basis; animals who have saved a life ... these are the types of amazing dogs and cats you'll meet at the 9th Annual Hero Awards.

Arizona Search Dogs Win 12 Who Care Award

Posted by azsearchdogs on September 12, 2011 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (0)

The Arizona Search Dogs were awarded the 12 Who Care award for June 2012


When disaster strikes, Arizona Search Dogs are among the first responders. The group is made up of amazing firemen and women and their dogs who respond in times of tragedy.

Read more:

Phoenix Fire's search-rescue team trains constantly

Posted by azsearchdogs on July 6, 2011 at 4:47 PM Comments comments (0)

PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Fire Department's urban search and rescue team will not go to New Zealand to help with earthquake recovery, but the team still spent Wednesday morning training its search dogs to deal with disasters.

A firefighter was lowered into a hole under concrete rubble in Tempe and it was up to a black lab named Big Ben -- after Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger -- to find the trapped man.

"Ben Roethlisberger actually donated dog food for a year and 15 annual physicals for our dogs," said Fire Capt. John Dean.

He noted Big Ben found his man in a matter of seconds, while it could have taken firefighters minutes or hours.

"Even with all the technology we have -- and we embrace it, we're always looking for new ideas and new things -- you just can't beat that dog and their nose, and they're nice to have around, too."

He added, "You think about a debris field, 10 to 15 acres in size, with the right conditions, you can clear it in 15 or 20 minutes."

Phoenix Fire's team was used after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and after last year's earthquake in Haiti.

2005 Top Dogs Are Named at the Search Dog Foundation's Annual IRONDOG(TM) Competition

Posted by azsearchdogs on July 6, 2011 at 4:09 PM Comments comments (0)

The Best of the best came to train in the Los Angeles area -- this week's America's finest search and rescue dogs perfected their skills and proved who were the top dogs during the Metacam(R) IRONDOG training mission (April 10-15, 2005). Created by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (, this annual event gives canine search teams across the nation the opportunity to challenge their skills as well as give the general public an opportunity to witness first hand the preparation and training of a highly trained search dog.

The winners of Metacam(R) IRONDOG Competition were named Friday, April 15, 2005. The winning team consisted of Randy Gross and his golden retriever Dusty from the Sacramento Metro Fire Department, Bud Sousa and his golden retriever Kane, who serve the Oakland Fire Department and John Dean from the Phoenix Fire Department and his canine partner, Reo, a chocolate Labrador.

After four (4) days of intensive training in real-life scenarios that were scored, the team, nicknamed the "Bloodhounds", entered the final day of competition with a score of 29,320 points. After competing in a series of timed skills and agility events, the team's canines secured the win. The Metacam(R) IRONDOG's skills events included a Time Obstacle Course, Bulls Eye Recall and Stop, Direction Control, Retrieve Relay and the Long Crawl.

Teams from the local the fire departments of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City, Ventura County, Santa Paula, Kern, Montebello and Santa Barbara as well as Northern California, Florida, Arizona and Mexico competed in this year's Metacam(R) IRONDOG.

Canine Search Specialist Class 2011

Posted by azsearchdogs on July 6, 2011 at 12:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Two members of the Arizona Search Dogs attended the CSS class in Memphis TN.

Captain Fitzgerald Petersen, Unified Fire Authority Utah Task Force 1, took these great photos of the weeks events.

Arizona Search Dogs awarded 12 Who Care Award for June 2011

Posted by azsearchdogs on June 1, 2011 at 1:43 AM Comments comments (0)

The Arizona Search Dogs were awarded the 12 who care award for the month of June 2011. We are very honored to recieve this award. Special thanks to Traci from Topaz Vet. Clinic, everyone at channel 12, and The Room Store.