Saving Lives through cooperation and education.

Ohio Search Dog  

Association, Inc.

Ohio Search Dog Association

24 hour Emergency Dispatch Number:


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How to Become a New Member

The Ohio Search Dog Association is always seeking enthusiastic new volunteer members. New members must be willing to attend numerous hours of training sessions, mostly on weekends and evenings. New members without  dogs are preferred, but we will consider dogs you already own. OSDA trains at training sites throughout northeast Ohio, so you must be willing to travel. The team trains year round regardless of weather. As an all volunteer team member, you will be responsible for most of costs associated with training and response with your canine. This is really a passion more than a job. If you enjoy helping others, working in the outdoors with your dog, new challenges and rewarding friendships…then this might be right for you!

To learn more about joining, please contact us at   

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What qualities make a good canine handler?

A: SAR dog handlers must enjoy working with dogs and being outdoors in all types of weather. They must be physically fit and able to respond to emergencies at any hour of the day or night. Handlers must become proficient at land navigation, map and compass, radio communication, wilderness survival, crime scene procedures and first aid.

Q: Are there other team members besides canine handlers?

A: Other members of the team support the search effort in other ways. They help navigate for the handlers, set up base camp, establish radio communications and various other support functions. These team members are essential to the search effort as they allow the handlers to concentrate on observing their canines for subtle indications of the search.

Q: Does your dog live with you?

A: Yes, each handler purchases their own K9 for use in SAR, and these dogs live in our homes as partners and companions.

Q: How long does it take to train the dogs?

A: Generally, 12-18 months of training is required to qualify a SAR dog. Once certified, dogs must train 2-3 times per week for the duration of their career.

Q: How long is a SAR dogs career?

A: It varies with the breed and individual dog. It is not uncommon for dogs to work until age 8 or 9.

Q: What breed of dog works best for SAR?

A: Every handler has their own preference. In general, we look for qualities in the individual dog and not as specific breeds. The dogs must be trainable, agile and able to get along with other dogs and people. SAR dogs are often of the larger working, sporting, herding or hound breeds, including German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Blood Hounds and Labrador Retrievers.

“If a child or loved one would ever go missing in our area, OSDA would be the first team I would contact.”

Jim Green, K9 Officer

Independence, Ohio