The K-9 Unit is one of several specialized resource units of TSAR. The canine resource increases search capeabilities beyond the scope of human sensory perception. Canines can discern the scent of one particle in one million. Most humans have approximately 8 million cells inside their nose dedicated to smell. Canines have approximately 120–200 million cells dedicated to smell.

Our Canines are cross-trained in two separate canine search modalities: air scent and track/trailing. Canines and canine handlers must undergo a series of evaluations before reaching mission readiness.

The TSAR K-9 Unit trains one day every week to keep this resource at ready and in peak condition. Even with this dedication, it takes 1.5 to 2 years to fully train a mission-ready canine and canine handler, training a minimum of one day each week in the search modality plus addtional obedience, agility and behavioral shaping every day by the individual handler. While all of our dogs are trained in live detection, some of our canines additionally become proficient in human remains detection.

Air scent is generated from air/wind blowing past a person, carrying scent across the landscape for up to several miles. The dog works with his head held high hunting for scent on the wind. This search modality may be conducted through generic search (dog hunts for any human scent in the area) or through scent specific search (dog hunts for a specific scent from a given scent article). 

Join the K9 Unit

See the Join Us page for more information about joining Taos Search & Rescue. Joining the K9 Unit is a substantial commitment, and it may take 1.5 to 2 years of training until you and your dog are ready to respond to a search mission.

To learn more about working in the K9 Unit, download their unit guidelines below.

K9 Unit Members

Delinda VanneBrightyn – Unit Leader, Handler for K9 AkioYodasan (K9-1)

Michael Povilaitis – Handler for K9 Wheeler and K9 Kachina (K9-3)

Emily Johnson – Handler for K9 Gus (K9-4)

Rob Goldfarb – Handler for K9 Po, Auxiliary Member (K9-2)