K9 Unit

Meet our K9s    

Ways to help train a SAR K9    

K9 Medical Fund 

The SR3NJ K9 Unit is made up of our operational K9s and Handlers, as well as our trainee and future handlers and their trainee K9s. Individuals who wish to become K9 handlers are encouraged to reach out to the team and speak with our K9 unit Lead before purchasing a K9.

          Our SAR Dogs are certified to Search and Rescue Council of New Jersey K9 Standards. In addition to K9 search tactics, our handlers are trained to be Field Team Leaders, and receive training in navigation, survival, scene size up, patient care, first aid, PPE, and scene management. On a search, our experienced search management lead who is an experienced K9 handler knows how to send human or K9 search teams to the right areas (to help the search end more quickly and positively) OR (to help make a faster find).

          The K9s are all very friendly, they love people and are available with their handlers to come out and do education programs for scouting, youth groups, adult groups, and even enjoy visiting assisted living and senior centers to meet people. Each of our K9s has his/her own unique personality.

          A potential handler who wishes to join the SR3NJ K9 unit can expect to spend 2 to 3 years training to become operational. K9 Handlers must be team members, and are expected to attend the team drill, as well as the two monthly K9 unit drills, in addition to working several times per week with the K9 Unit Lead and doing daily training and socializing at home. Handlers work in the rain, snow, sleet, fog, at night, and, occasionally, on nice days. Dogs which have done any form of bite work are excluded from membership on the K9 Unit.

          Our K9s are owned by the handler who provides all care, food, and supplies for working, feeding, and caring for the dog, in addition to specialized K9 equipment.

          Please CONTACT US if you are interested. Thank You.

Meet Our K9s( PAULA HAS THE OLD TEXT we can build on too)


          K9 Exepnathos, or “Zip” as we call him sometimes is our most experienced K9. He is trained to do a “Bark Alert”, which means that when he finds you, he will say a quick hello with a few licks, and then, he will start to bark so that his handler knows he has made the find and can come to the source of the sound. Sometimes he gets so excited to find a missing person that his tail wags like a windup toy before the barks actually come out, and sometimes, he bounces as he barks. When he is not out doing SAR training he loves to meet people and wishes the pandemic would end so he can get back to visiting scout troops and schools, or assisted living homes to do his public education. He has also been practicing his ground tracking and can do 24 hour old tracks in town, and 3 to 4 day old tracks in the woods.


          K9 Max is one of our more recently certified SAR Dogs, he has been an operational dog for a year now, and has attended several searches in that time. He is also “Bark Alert” trained, and he is quite a loud barker once he finds his subject. Instead of hanging whisky under his collar like the Saint Bernard Dogs are rumored to have, we are thinking of placing an ear plug dispenser under his collar. He is a very sweet dog, whose nickname is “Sir Licks Alot”. He is known to provide a generous amount of love to his subjects before and during his bark alert. One of his favorite things to do is solve training problems that are supposed to be a challenge very quickly, much to the dismay of our K9 lead that spent longer trying to trick Max than it takes for Max to figure out the problem. Max loves to meet people and he has enjoyed his time training to be a SAR K9, and had only met his owner 3 weeks before starting his training.


          K9 Dakota is our other recently certified dog, he and Max took the Search and Rescue Council of New Jersey K9 Certification on the same day. Dakota started his training at about 6 months old, and advanced somewhat quickly. Like his teammates, he is trained to do a “Bark Alert”.  When he finds you, many times he will give a few licks, but will also tap you gently with his paw before barking. Though he is all work, Dakota has not forgotten how to be happy and silly, he really enjoys working. During his training he was known for things like taking the hidden persons hat if it fell off his head, and trading it for the dog toy, or climbing inside the sleeping bag or tarp with the missing person to snuggle before getting out and barking. While this may have been appreciated on cold days, it was not such a popular trick on wet and rainy days. We are glad he gave up that line of work.

          If you would like to meet Dakota, Exepnathos, or Max, please CONTACT US, and maybe you can come out to a drill and hide. The dogs would love to meet you.

Ways you can help train a SAR K9

          A Search Dog has one very important job on a search. That job is to find the missing person. When someone is missing, time is life, the faster we find the missing person, the better the chance that person will be found alive and well. Quite frankly, there is no “typical missing person”.

          The person who is lost may be any age, any race, a mix of races, any size, weight, ethnicity, any combination of physical characteristics. The person may be the picture of physical health, or may have significant physical disabilities or challenges. This person may be in a wheelchair, use a cane, or a walker, or have a limp or prosthetics. Simply stated, no matter who you are, you look and smell like a missing person to our dogs.

          We are always looking for volunteers to come out and spend several hours hiding for one or more of our dogs. You can read a book, listen to an audio book or podcast, or even play a game on your tablet or phone. This teaches the dogs to find people they have never met before. You get to see the dog work, and help reward the dog after the find. If you think you are good at hide and seek, come put your skills to the test.

          You can also help by providing locations for us to train in. Many times we train in parks, and large open spaces, but, people get lost in town too. If you own or manage a strip mall, shopping mall, industrial park, or, maybe you are part of a neighborhood association or manage a camp. If so, we would love to have your business or HOA invite us out to do a fake search on your private property for a pretend missing person. It is especially helpful for the dogs to get to practice in town. Please contact our Chief to learn more.

From the time they are puppies, our K9s are socialized to people, places, events.

K9 Medical Fund

Search and Rescue Training can be dangerous for the searchers. Danger and injury do not discriminate, the danger is real for humans and K-9s. Many times searches are in areas where there are sharp rocks, glass, metal, and other things to hurt the dogs and people, unfortunately, dogs are not able to safely negotiate terrain with booties.

SR3NJ understands this, and maintains a fund to assist handlers with the costs for medical care for a K9 who is injured on a search or in training.

Our all volunteer dog handlers spend roughly 1,500 hours per year training, and spend several thousand dollars of their own money to buy the gear that is needed for K-9 S.A.R.

Please consider assisting SR3NJ in maintaining a fund that can assist a handler with medical expenses that easily can reach several thousand dollars for even a moderate injury. If you would like to donate, please email us at K9@SR3NJ.org.