About National Search Dog Alliance

National Search Dog Alliance (NSDA) is a SAR Dog group that started in March 2007. The Alliance's aim is to become an exemplary group representing the interests of search and rescue dog handlers.

"There is a vast community of dog handlers who want an organization which is solely dedicated to issues facing dog handlers". Canine handlers had needs that were not being met by other organizations. NSDA wanted to provide programs designed and developed by the dog handler, for the dog handler. Thus the Alliance reached out to handlers to obtain their feedback on issues because this organization was developed with them in mind.

NSDA believes that, only through communication, can programs be designed that meet the needs of the members. Communication allows for quick feedback and the ability to take needed actions.

From the start, the Alliance has been committed to working with the premier dog handlers in the country to draw from their extensive experience. As Policy and Procedures, Standards and Programs were developed, insight and input was gotten from these handlers in an effort to provide the best canine product for NSDA members and the canine community as a whole. NSDA believes that quality standards reflect well on an organization as well as those who are certified by them.

The National Search Dog Alliance has confidence that it provides quality education, pre-eminent certifications and an effective voice in the future of search and rescue canines.

NSDA Mission Statement

The mission of the National Search Dog Alliance, a not-for-profit, 501(c) (3), is to serve communities through the certification and education of search and rescue and law enforcement canine teams and their support personnel.

  • Serve communities: our certified canine teams respond to local and national emergencies and provide awareness programs on proactive safety education.
  • Certification: we provide nationally recognized standards to ensure the highest quality resources to advance public safety.
  • Sponsoring Education at the local, regional and national level to provide professional continuous learning opportunities.

Charging for SAR Policy

National Search Dog Alliance (NSDA) is comprised of non-paid professional K-9 teams who donate their services to locate the missing and endangered. NSDA does not support non-paid professional K-9 teams charging a fee to the families for a rescue or a recovery. Our mission is to help bring each incident to closure as soon as possible.

NSDA Provides the Following to the Search & Rescue K-9 Community:

CERTIFICATION TESTING Area Search, Area Search with Live Subject & Cadaver, Avalanche First Responder and Ski Patrol, Disaster First Responder Type III Live Find, Disaster First Responder Type III Human Remains Detection, Gun Source Residue, Land Human Remains Detection, Water Human Remains Detection, Trailing I, II &III and Backtracking. Testing is done by nationally certified Evaluators trained to the highest standards in the field.

AREA: The NSDA Area Search Team Field Qualification Test assesses the ability of an area search canine team (handler and canine) to locate hidden subjects in a large area within a prescribed time period, the ability of the handler to correctly read the behavior of the canine, the ability of the canine to show a trained, recognizable change in behavior when it detects a person, and the ability of the handler to formulate and execute a search plan.

AVALANCHE: The objective of the NSDA Avalanche test is to simulate a real world K-9 incident with the human contamination one might expect to find when responding to an avalanche. The dog and handler team will be evaluated on their abilities to perform as an effective avalanche K-9 team and on their ability to successfully find avalanche victims.

DISASTER TYPE III Live Find: The purpose of this certification is to closely mimic the disaster situation in which the "First Responder" canine handler may find themselves searching. The team will be expected to comfortably and safely traverse rubble allowing the canine to locate a live target and demonstrate their final response while remaining at the live target. The canine must also show their ability to confidently complete an agility course.

LAND HRD: This standard is based upon reality and has a three-pronged approach. The team must be capable of searching a house/building where the case begins, identifying the vehicle that transported the victim and searching the wooded area where the victim was placed.

WATER HRD: The Water Recovery Team Field Qualification Test demonstrates the ability of a water recovery canine team (handler and canine) to locate victims of drowning related incidents such that recovery resources can be employed in the area of indication with a high degree of probability that recovery of the victim will be successful based upon information provided by the canine team.

DISASTER TYPE III Human Remains Detection: The purpose of this certification is to closely mimic the disaster situation in which the "First Responder" canine handler may find themselves searching. The team will be expected to comfortably and safely traverse rubble allowing the canine to locate human remains and demonstrate their final response while remaining at the human remains. The canine must also show their ability to confidently complete an agility course.

TRAILING: The purpose of the Wilderness Trailing test is to evaluate the Handler/K-9 team's ability to correctly follow a trail and locate the missing person. The objective is to simulate a real world incident with the typical human contamination found at a search scene.

BACKTRACKING: The National Search Dog Alliance Backtracking Certification is a test designed to measure both the ability of the dog and the handler in searching for and locating lost people in a backtracking/forward-tracking scenario. The Back Track standard has been developed by NSDA for very limited, specific use. It can be helpful for law enforcement, Fish and Game, evidence searches and any related use where the subject's trail must be followed back to its source in order to locate additional items or lost people.

Other Programs & Benefits:

MENTORING: NSDA provides mentors, upon request, to give teams the opportunity to have someone they can call upon to offer assistance in team matters, training issues and search dilemmas. Feedback can range from talking to someone regarding difficult searches, issues of organizing a new team, helping with training programs, etc. This is also a great way to help handlers reach out to each other by building lasting bonds and friendships.

CONFERENCE FEE SCHOLARSHIPS are offered to members for them to increase their K-9 knowledge and handler abilities.

DISCOUNTS: Members receive discounted NSDA tests and products; Corporate discounts such as Ruff Wear.

PODCAST OUTLINES which supply the pertinent information given during the broadcast are provided to members only.