CVSRT Search Dogs
Search dogs have been a part of CVSRT since 1977 and over the years we have seen 15 dogs and 10 handlers assisting the team on searches.
Currently, we are very fortunate to have four air scenting search dogs and handlers within the team. All of the dogs and handlers are SARDA graded and on-call and ready to deploy within our own operational area, but also further afield when required.
Dog handlers are firstly Mountain Rescue team members but they provide an additional and valuable resource for the team when it comes to searching for missing persons. There are currently four graded, search dogs/handlers within CVSRT, out of thirty four in total in SARDA England. All four of the CVSRT dogs are border collies, which our handlers prefer for their intelligence, agility and durability.
What is SARDA?
SARDA is the Search And Rescue Dog Association (England) which is affiliated to Mountain Rescue, England and Wales.
To be considered for training as a dog handler, an individual must have been on the callout list of a recognised Mountain Rescue or Search & Rescue Team for a minimum of one year, have the support of their team, and have been a dogsbody (see below) on national and local training courses. SARDA’s aim is to teach the handler ‘how to train dogs to become search dogs’, and not to teach the handler search and rescue skills. They do not train the general public to become dog handlers.
It generally takes about two years to train a dog to callout standard and assessment takes place in winter conditions over three days in the Lake District, Snowdonia or Brecon.
More information can be found on the SARDA website at mountainrescuesearchdogsengland.org.uk
There was a short gap between Mike Haley and his dog retiring and Eric Spofforth and Brad grading, but otherwise, dogs have been in use by CVSRT since 1977.
For one period, 1996-1998 there were five graded dogs within the team simultaneously, and from 2013 to the present time there have been four graded dogs within the team which, nationally, is far in excess of the norm and is an indication of the commitment shown by CVSRT to the use of dogs as a search resource.
Eric Spofforth with Brad, and Eleanor Sherwin with Bonnie were both awarded the Novice Shield. This shield is presented in recognition of the standard of their performance at initial assessment, for a first dog, and is awarded only in years when a suitable candidate present themselves.
Whilst there is an expectation that border collies will be able to work until they are about 12 years old, and labrador/retrievers a bit less, the possibility of illness or injury is ever present and numbers can reduce unexpectedly.
Eric Spofforth and Brad
Alasdair Earnshaw and Corrie, Neville Sharp and Gayle
Eric Spofforth and Ben
Eleanor Sherwin and Bonnie, David Warden and Sam
Simon Adams and Tip
Alasdair Earnshaw and Kipper
Simon Adams and Pip, Eric Spofforth and Jed
David Warden and Nell
Eleanor Sherwin and Pepper
Wayne Thackray and Dodge
David Astley and Jack, Pete Farnell and Meg