Frequently Asked Questions

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Where do you search? The members of the LA Search Dogs search throughout the 4,000+ square miles of Los Angeles County.  They have been requested by all the LA Sheriff's Stations, and work together with the other 8 Search and Rescue Teams within the Department.  Since trained search dogs are not very common, LASD frequently receives calls from other Agencies for assistance.

Los Angeles Search Dogs

In an emergency call 9-1-1

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Why Dogs? With a sense of smell far more powerful than man’s and an ability to probe nooks and crannies that humans cannot penetrate, dog teams can locate missing persons more efficiently and effectively than humans alone.

What kind of dogs are used? LA Search Dogs utilizes dogs that have the right aptitude and drive or focus.  Some of the breeds commonly used in SAR are
German Shepherds, Malinois, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Hounds, Border Collies and Australian Shepherds. Mixed breeds are also used.


Why do the dogs do this?  They search because they love to hunt -  it's a great game to them.  There is a big reward of praise and joy when they find a missing person.


How do the dogs do it? Primarily using their sense of smell, dogs will utilize all of their senses to find the missing person. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, estimated to be between 100 to 100 thousand times better than
  humans.


What are the dogs actually smelling? Human scent is generated from the bacterial decay of a mixture of dead skin cells, skin oils, and perspiration. Our bodies are constantly emitting scent at all times, and giving it off in greater amounts during physical exertion. We each have a unique scent that a trained dog can easily identify from other humans.

Who trains the dogs? Each handler trains their own dog.  There are many steps and certifications though the course of training and it takes approximately 1½ to 3 years to get a dog fully trained and certified.

Can your dogs be used to find lost or stolen pets? No. Finding people is the teams only priority. While we know how devastating a missing pet can be, our dogs are trained only to find humans.

Who are your members?  Team Members come from all backgrounds and a variety of professions.

Certifications: There are basically two main types of certifications for Search Dogs: Area and Trailing. There are also several Specialty certifications.  (Go to the "about" tab for more information.)