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OVSARDA dog teams are certified, and re-certified annually, to Canadian police agency standards. Within Ontario, our mission-ready teams have been certified through testing by the staff at the Ontario Provincial Police K9 Academy in Gravenhurst. Several of our teams have also certified to those standards required by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Alberta).

Water Search

Every operational OVSARDA dog team is required to be both trained and certified in both air scent and tracking. An air scenting dog may work on or off leash. He quarters back and forth across a search area, under the direction of his handler. When he locates a missing person, he is taught to indicate by barking or jumping on his handler.

A tracking dog will follow a given person's scent trail through woods and fields, urban settings and wilderness, until he locates the person. He will indicate all track related scent items along the way i.e. discarded gloves or hats, candy wrappers, etc. Each track is different, so success depends on many factors such as the age of the track, the weather conditions, or the amount of traffic in the area. (For an example, see the search report for Aylmer Nov. 1999).

Certified teams also are required to pass tests of evidence search, obedience, agility and non-aggression.

OVSARDA also trains dogs in a number of specialties.

  • Water Search - These dogs are able to search bodies of water, either from shore, while swimming or most commonly from a boat, and detect the scent rising from a body below the surface (For an example, see the search report for Elliott Lake Aug. 1999)
  • Disaster Search - A disaster dog is trained to search rubble or collapsed structures. Disaster dogs are often used after earthquakes, tornadoes or explosions. This kind of search dog requires advanced agility and directional skills, as well as the universally accepted Bark alert. OVSARDA teams have certified to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) standards.
  • Cadaver Search - A cadaver dog is trained to locate human remains. This might mean the intact body of a recently deceased subject, or disarticulated remains, scattered through animal activity or other means. Dogs are trained to locate and indicate human tissue, blood and bone. OVSARDA teams must certify to North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA) standards.

All OVSARDA dogs are non-aggressive towards humans. Temperament and suitability for SAR work are constantly being assessed, both formally and informally.