We recently caught up with Kev Saunders who is a search and rescue dog handler in Hampshire.
Kev has been a member of the team for over 10 years and has been involved in Lowland Rescue for over 12 years.
‘I have made the volunteer role a large part of my life. Our team assists the police and other agencies by providing specially trained Search & Rescue dog teams to assist in vulnerable missing person searches.’ Says Kev.
Kev’s operational search dog is a 10-year-old Border Collie named Zak. Kev and Zak have deployed on over 250 searches during their career. Zak is a qualified Lowland Rescue level 3, air-scenting, Search Dog.
Kev also has a trainee search dog named Rusty who is working towards assessment.
The Buddies team came up with some questions to find out more about Kev and Zak’s role.
What does a usual day entail?
‘Our usual day consists of an early morning walk before I head of to earn some pennies to pay for this expensive ‘hobby’. All our dogs are pets too, so vet fees and other costs including fuel for searches is covered by each individual. I am self-employed which allows me to pop home and check on the welfare of my dogs throughout the day. It’s important for a handler to know their search dog is in good condition so that when the call comes we are able to assist.’
‘Often after work I will exercise the dogs. Twice a week the team meet to undertake training both to keep the experienced dogs on form and bring along the trainees.’
‘A number of times a month, we are called out to put our dogs to use. Usually late at night deploying throughout Hampshire and the surrounding counties, to search for vulnerable missing people. So far in 2018 Hampshire Search & Rescue Dogs have been called out 63 times.’
What is the best part about your job?
‘Working alongside my best mate Zak. Watching him enjoy his work and sometimes use his amazing skill to save a life is brilliant.’
What is the worst bit about the job?
‘The worst bit is the fact it’s a voluntary role, and the cost of fuel sometimes makes it hard to attend training and callouts.’
If you would like to find out more about Hampshire Search and Rescue Dogs, visit www.hsardogs.org.uk. You can also support the fantastic work they do. Further info about how you could get involved can also be found on their website.
A huge thank you to Kev, Zac and the wider team for taking the time to talk to us.