This past weekend, I had the pleasure of photographing the Sarasota K9 Search and Rescue training seminar in Sarasota County. I’ve always admired the dog teams who are involved in finding missing, lost and even human remains to help bring families back together or to provide answers and closure. I met a few of the team members back in January at the Bark for Life event in Venice. Later, they contacted me and asked if I would be willing to photograph their HRD (human remain detection) training this spring. They are a nonprofit organization available for deployment 365 days a year. While this seminar was a 4 day event, training is non-stop. The dogs and their handlers put in hours of their time and spend thousands of dollars so they may selflessly help first responders. I was honored to be asked to document the hard work that takes place behind the scenes.
In typical Florida fashion, it was a picture perfect day - partly cloudy with temps in the mid to high 80s. Several area businesses and parks allowed the teams to use their facility and land to train on. It’s important that the dogs work in situations exactly like they will find when involved in a search and rescue operation. So they worked in open fields, near houses, in rubble, and among objects resembling what you'd find in collapsed buildings.
The teams ranged from novice to experienced and had traveled from all over the country to attend.
I saw a wide range of dog breeds, the most common one being a Labrador retriever. They ranged in age from young adults to 8 or 9 years old. The ability of dogs to be able to find a scent among so many smells is absolutely amazing. I have developed even more respect for what these dogs and their handler do after this weekend.
If you’d like to learn more about the Sarasota K9 Search and Rescue, click HERE to visit their website. I took over 1000 photos the day I was there, it’ll take some time to sort, cull and edit them down. But in the meantime, here’s a quick peak of some of the teams in action.
Thanks for reading!