Search and Rescue Dogs Avalanche (SARDA) is a volunteer organisation that trains and deploys search and rescue avalanche dog teams in alpine environments across New Zealand. They work with the NZ Police, the Mountain Safety Council and SAANZ (Ski Areas Association of NZ) to provide assistance in snow and avalanche rescue situations. They are composed of experienced alpine professionals who are passionate about the snow industry.
Avalanche Search Dogs are remarkable animals that can detect human scent buried deep under the snow. They can search faster and more efficiently than any other method of avalanche rescue. They are an essential part of saving lives in the mountains.
An avalanche dog team consists of two members: the dog and the handler. They work together to locate people who have been trapped by an avalanche. They need to respond quickly, search thoroughly, and stay safe in a hazardous environment. To achieve this, they need to develop a range of skills that require constant training and practice.
Donations to SARDA will contribute to the training and care of the dogs, ensuring they are adequately equipped and prepared to save lives during avalanche emergencies. Your support can make a significant difference in efforts to provide effective and efficient search and rescue operations in avalanche-prone areas.
In 1996 I got the chance to be involved for a short training session with Matt and his dog Mitch and from that day I knew that I wanted to become an operational avalanche dog handler. After travelling the world chasing the snow, getting married and having a family the time was right 3 years ago.
With the support of the Avalanche Dogs NZ and local trainer Brent, I took on a great black lab, Peak. The next 2.5 years was devoted to the goal of becoming an operational team and an important part of the Avalanche Dog community.
Peak became a huge part of my day to day life with 2 to 4 training sessions a day, camps, assessments and best of all creating a great bond with her. But not all dreams come true and I had to make the hard decision to pull Peak out of the Pathway and retire her to a life of a pet, one of the hardest decisions I have had to make!!!!
But all is not lost and with a new dog on the way the dream is still alive.
Read more about training SAR Avalanche Dogs on the SARDA website.