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NE-TF1 Canine Program


If you are ever buried under a

ton of rubble, trapped where no

one can find you, or caught in

the aftermath of a storm, I

promise to sniff you out.

I promise to go about my work

with a wagging tail and a hero's


I promise to ignore all the

fascinating smells out there, and

to concentrate on finding you.

I promise to never give up.

The Nebraska Task Force 1 Urban Search & Rescue Canine Team is NOT accepting new handlers at this time.

For additional information about our program please click HERE to contact our Training Manager for more information

US&R Canine teams play a critical role during rescue response incidents. Canines use their incredible sense of smell to detect human scent, even from individuals burried deep in rubble.  The canine team is tasked with working in disaster situations in search of live, trapped victims.  The canine's job is to locate victims in these disasters and alert their handlers to their location.  In addition to training canines to locate victims in a disaster, the handler also receives additional training which aids in their safety and ability to function effectively and safely in a disaster situation.

FEMA US&R canine handlers are comprised of civilians, firefighters, and police department members.  Most of the certified canines are Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Border Collies, and Golden Retrievers.  Canines with high "toy drive" are used for urban search and rescue work.  It is a game of hide and seek for the dog.  In training we have volunteer victims that hide with a toy.  When the dog alerts to their location the volunteer gives the dog the toy and plays with them.  By the time a dog is on a real search they are willingly looking fr trapped survivors.

As you can imagine, this type of training takes a great deal of time, dedication and effort.  The majority of a canine handler's work is on a volunteer basis.

NE-TF1 does not accept any canines into our program, we only accept handlers. Individuals interested in joining the team as a Canine Search Specialist must first attend an NE-TF1 handler academy where they will be evaluated.  Handlers must possess a strong work ethic and the desire to save lives!  In addition, the following characteristics are important in handlers:

¨ The ability to follow directions and work within a chain of command

¨ The physical ability to work in various stressful conditions

¨ The ability to lift and carry equipment

¨ The physical ability to work 12 to 14 hour days

¨ The ability to work as a team and maintain a working canine partner

¨ The ability to travel for training and deployments

¨ The ability to assist others at canine training activites

¨ Must be somewhat comfortable working at heights

¨ Must be comfortable working in confined spaces and on rubble

Following successful completion of the academy, NE-TF1 will facilitate that individual in obtaining a suitable disaster working canine.

Click HERE to read the Canine Search Specialist position description.

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