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Leerburg Articles Urban Search & Rescue Response System

Urban Search & Rescue Response System

Urban Search & Rescue Response System


Search Canine Readiness Evaluation


Copyright 1998

Revised February, 1996

[NOTE: The FEMA USAR Standards set forth below are supplied for informational purposes only. Revisions to the Type II - Basic Evaluation are currently out for comment and should be finalized on or before December 1998. All FEMA canine handlers intending to participate in a Type II - Basic Disaster Dog Evaluation or a Type I - Advanced Disaster Dog Evaluation should contact their FEMA Task Force Program Manager or FEMA Search Team Manager and obtain a copy of the most recent FEMA USAR Standards, as revised.]


Members of the Operations and Training Subcommittees of the FEMA US&R Advisory Committee convened on 21-23 May, 1994, in Santa Rosa, CA to develop a testing process to validate current search canine standards nationwide.

The Subcommittee established two levels of performance:

Type II - Basic Disaster Dog

Type I - Advance Disaster Dog

The standards were validated using the developed testing process on 13-14 August, 1994, in Santa Cruz, CA. The evaluations were recorded on the numerical scoring sheets developed at the Santa Rosa meeting. This process was subsequently reviewed and critiqued and found to be workable and beneficial.


The objectives for developing a standardized search canine evaluation process are to:

Provide uniform methods to determine the current operational readiness levels of all Canine Search Specialists and dogs participating in the National US&R Response System.

Use the results of the assessment process to identify major strengths and shortfalls for the Canine Search Specialists and their dogs for targeted improvement (as reflected by the numerical scoring of each activity).

Develop a fair and objective process that can be conducted by local program management, State officials, FEMA and sponsoring organizations to determine search canine readiness levels.

Provide feedback to the respective task force regarding the strengths and weaknesses of their current state of canine search readiness. This information would then translate into a comprehensive plan of action for further Search Team development and improvement.

Use the review process as an opportunity to share techniques and ideas between Canine Search Specialists from different task forces on how to address various demands and issues identified during the assessment process.

Develop a dynamic process where task forces can have their evaluation updated to reflect subsequent attainment of previously identified shortfalls and provide FEMA with a current, accurate readiness assessment of evaluated Canine Search Specialists and dogs for each task force.


To facilitate the task force assessment, the following documents have been developed:

Search Canine Readiness Evaluation Process
Type II - Element Descriptions
Type II - Performance Criteria & Score Sheet Guidelines
Type I - Element Descriptions
Type I - Performance Criteria & Score Sheet Guidelines
Type II - Search Canine Readiness Evaluation Scoring Sheet
Type I - Search Canine Readiness Evaluation Scoring Sheet


TYPE I Disaster Dog (Advanced):

Fully operational disaster search dog, that has successfully completed the national Canine Readiness evaluation criteria.

TYPE II Disaster Dog (Basic):

A disaster dog who has met the minimal evaluation for deployment and may have limited capabilities.


The Search Canine Readiness Evaluation process is divided into two parts:

Type II - Basic Disaster Dog

It is anticipated that the conduct of the Type II - Basic Disaster Dog evaluation would be conducted at the local and state level.

Type I - Advanced Disaster Dog

The Type I - Advanced Disaster Dog evaluation would be conducted on a national level.

A cadre of evaluators meeting the evaluator criteria will be selected by the Operations Subcommittee using an application process. Selected applicants will attend an Evaluator Training Session conducted by FEMA.

Site requirements for both levels have been determined and are listed in the Type I and II Search Canine Readiness Evaluations.

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