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Okanagan Search and Rescue teams add two dogs to active duty

Labrador retriever, Chase and german shepherd, Kaya are the new recruits
OOSAR dog handler, Mike Arychuk and Kaya with COSAR dog handler, Terry Downs and Chase. (Contributed)

Okanagan search and rescue teams have added two fluffy new members to the team.

Teams from Kelowna (COSAR) and Oliver/ Osoyoos (OOSAR) added two new active members to their teams – Labrador retriever, Chase and German shepherd, Kaya.

Both dogs were recently validated by the RCMP Police Dog Services at the BC Search Dog Association’s (BCSDA) training course, held this past week in Merritt.

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In B.C., civilian dog handlers and their dogs engaged in ground search activities, are active members of a recognized BC Search and Rescue group and must be validated as a Civilian Search Dog team by the RCMP and recognized by Emergency Management BC.

“We are looking forward to having our dogs aid in search and rescues in the Okanagan and surrounding areas,” said Chase’s handler, Terry Downs from COSAR.

“When we are needed, the RCMP will task us through the Provincial Emergency Program.”

“Dogs have a great sense of smell, but they also have superior hearing and night vision,” said Kaya’s handler, Mike Arychuk from OOSAR.

“This can help save time, and time is of the essence in a search. One search dog can be the equivalent of 20 to 30 human searchers.”

In addition to being members of BCSDA, Downs and Arychuk are also active volunteers on their respective ground search teams – COSAR and OOSAR. A handler puts in approximately 2,000 hours of unpaid training time over the first two years and spends thousands of dollars on the care and training of their dogs – mostly at their own cost.

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Daniel Taylor
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
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