Scent Dog News • Dec 2015 The Search And Rescue Dog Association of Alberta


Bits and Bites

SARDAA members and dogs participated in the following public information events this year

  • April 26 - Strathcona County Emergency Services Day in Sherwood Park
  • May 9 - Get Ready in the Park organized by the City of Edmonton
  • June 7 - St Albert Public Safety Open House
  • Mary Ann Warren and Michelle Limoges attended Alberta Hunter Education Instructors’ Association conference outside Caroline, AB on Aug 7/15 where they made a presentation about SARDAA plus a demo
  • SARDAA members participated in Cabela’s Annual November Hometown Heroes Event with our display and demonstrations


  • A new SARDAA Social Media Policy was passed at the August 2015 meeting.
  • The Lost Person Behavior mobile app was released this spring and is available to download (for a fee) from Apple iTunes, Google Play and
  • SARScene 2016 will take place in Edmonton. The dates and location are yet to be determined, pending information from the National SAR Secretariat.
  • Cathy Rhind accepted the position of SARDAA’s rep at SAR Alberta.
  • SARDAA obtained a provincial training grant in 2015 to train members in Swift Water Recue (SRT-1) and in Swift Water Boat Safety, Wilderness First Aid and Lost Person Behavior (LPB).
  • Maryann Warren has a new puppy called Twang. Training in HRD, Twang comes from Tennessee and is a combination of Dutch Shepherd and Malinois.

Welcome new members

  • Barbi from Rocky Mountain House with GSD Galaxy
  • Delilah from Edmonton as Field Tech
  • Mike from Edmonton with GSD Blitz

Congratulations to

  • David and Che passed EPS evaluation and are now fully Active members (Nov 9, 2015)
  • Lisa and Zero to Associate level
  • Maryann Warren and Gotta; Mike Arychuk and Jaida – passed internal water search test in the summer
  • Pete and Islay to Associate (HR)

Thank you to

  • Our sincere thanks to the following persons for taking the time to act as hiders for our evaluations with EPS SAR Managers – Ingrid, Stephen, Judith and Sherry.
  • Ponoka Fire for their annual donation.
  • Montfort Heights Condominium Association, Red Deer in memory of Norman Jacobs.

Other News

  • In a joint letter from Ms. Géraldine Underdown, Executive Director of the National Search and Rescue Secretariat (NSS), and Ms. Lori MacDonald, Assistant Deputy Minister of Emergency Management and Programs at Public Safety Canada (PS), announced that the National SAR Secretariat is transferred to Public Service Canada from the Department of National Defence. We were assured that they will continue with business as usual with respect to NSS activities such as SARscene, SAR NIF, National SAR Program, National SAR Program Awards of Excellence, etc.

Probability of Detection

Anita, Mark and Kerrie – In response to queries on this subject and as an aid to SARDAA searchers

Probability of Detection (POD) is the probability or chance, expressed as a percentage, that a clue or subject would have been detected, if it were in the search segment.

The POD is used by search managers to:

  1. Decide whether to re-search a segment
  2. Decide whether to expand the total search area
  3. Decide whether to use additional or different resources
  4. Defend search actions to higher authorities

The estimated POD value will be affected by a variety of factors such as the size of a segment, terrain, weather condition, lighting, what is being searched and so forth. If the clue or subject is found, the POD is N/A. A more extensive list is found in the Personnel Handbook under "Write a Search Report". The POD is subjective and often requires a searcher's gut feeling.

If any factors change during the search of a segment, such as weather or varying terrain, take this into consideration when estimating the POD. In the description of the search report, be sure to note the significant factors that affected your estimation.

SARScene 2016 is in Edmonton, Alberta

SARScene 2015 by Michelle L. Limoges, Operations Section Chief SARScene 2016 Planning Committee

The National SAR Secretariat (NSS) is a federal body that oversees search and rescue in Canada. Among other things, they provide NIF (New Initiative Fund) grants to search groups across Canada and they sponsor the annual national SAR conference called SARScene.

SARScene in 2015 was in Charlottetown, PEI October 21 – 26, cosponsored by PEISAR.

As a result of an off-hand comment I made last year about volunteering to assist should the conference come to Alberta, I find myself on the planning committee for SARScene 2016. As such, I was invited to attend SARScene this year with most of the rest of the planning committee. The Office of the Fire Commissioner paid for the trip.

The first two days consisted of meetings with the NSS officer and her staff, and with Lori MacDonald, Assistant Deputy Minister of Emergency Management and Programs at Public Safety Canada (responsible for NSS) interspersed with sight-seeing in Charlottetown. On Saturday I attended the Lost Person Behaviour session presented by the guru himself, Bob Koester. SARDAA will be experiencing this course early in 2016 presented by our own Anita Schmidt. Saturday was also the ‘Field Training Day’ but since I was tied up studying lost persons, I did not attend the field day. There were no SAR dogs involved. Indeed, there was nothing on SAR dogs save the presentation on the proposed National SAR dog standard, which I will describe shortly.

Saturday evening featured the trade show followed up by a traditional ‘PEI Kitchen Party’ at the local fire hall. Several of our group were ‘shucked and shined’, and I have photographs for sale. Raw oysters and moonshine do nothing for me, so I was not involved except as a bystander.

Sunday and Monday were reserved for scheduled presentations. I attended a session called ‘Search Theory and Survivor Motion’ which was not what we thought; it was a description of rescues at sea and though interesting wasn’t relevant to boat work in Alberta. I did, however, come away with a healthy appreciation of why we need to wear PFDs, especially on cold water. This presentation was followed up by a very entertaining seminar on ticks by tick researcher Vet Lloyd, PhD, from Mt Allison University. So far, our Alberta varieties of ticks are nowhere near as deadly with Lyme Disease as those in other parts of Canada. Nasty critters!

Monday’s sessions began with a presentation about the proposed National SAR Dog Standards… no there are no standards drawn up as yet but the fledgling committee is trying to get some momentum going. The session was well attended actually so the interest is there. Likely Canadian Standards Association (CSA) will be involved which I think might ensure the process is inclusive; i.e. that it involves volunteer

SAR dog handlers. Later in the day I attended a session on PTSD and critical stress debriefings, and then searchers experiences while looking for dementia patients. Dr. Gordon Giesbech who is affectionately known as Dr Popsicle presented the last session I took in. This session actually complimented information learned in the very first session on cold-water rescue. Dr. Giesbech described the clinical aspects of immersion in cold water with video of a person jumping into cold water and what happened to her in the couple of minutes before she got to show (this was a well planned out experiment; she was fine!). Lessons – wear your PFD; and, if you fall in cold water, try not to panic, after one minute of gasping, you will not be able to swim but you will not die of hypothermia until an hour or so later. And, people who fall into cold water do not typically die of hypothermia; typically they drown way before succumbing to hypothermia especially if they are not wearing a PFD!

So the objective of the trip was to come home with insights into how we will run next year’s SARScene and I believe we got those and we also thought of many things we will do to make next year’s SARScene memorable. If you have any ideas for sessions or events, please let me know soon so we can consider them during the planning process.

Summary of the SAR Alberta North Central Regional Committee Meeting

September 15, 2015

Training needs for our region was the major focus of this conference call as the Grants for the 2016 year are due on September 30. Each group in our region talked about the course(s) they would like to host in 2016. We discussed how many of their members required the training and if they had additional openings was there support from the region’s groups to participate in the training.

SARDAA is interested in putting on Wilderness First Aid and Track Aware courses in 2016. Our training priority is the Wilderness First Aid Course as it also extends our Standard First Aid Certifications. We have a number of members’ certificates expiring in June 2016 and the remaining by February 2017. Parkland and Brazeau SAR are also interested in hosting this course in 2016. All of our groups have enough membership to fill these courses.

We only have 6 members needing the Track Aware course but there was significant interest from Hinton, Edmonton Regional and Parkland SAR Teams to fill a class of 18. Brazeau SAR is also interested in hosting Track Aware and Sign Cutting courses but their own membership are likely to fill both courses.

Edmonton Regional would like to host a Team Leader course and has openings for other teams to participate. All teams in the region had members that would be interested in attending this course.

Hinton was interested in hosting an Avalanche Rescue Skill course in January 2016 and there will be room for additional members from the region. They also expressed an interest in hosting either a Swift Water Rescue or an Ice Rescue course in 2016. Both these would be open to the region should they be running.

All grant applications were to be in sent to the North Central Regional Director by September 25, 2015. Once reviewed the Director will send an approval letter to be submitted along with your grant application to the Office of the Fire Commission.

Next meeting date was Tuesday, October 17, 2016 at 19:00 hrs. If you have any questions or topics you wish discussed at a regional meeting don’t hesitate to contact either myself or one of the executive via email or at training.


Cathy Rhind, SARDAA Dog Handler, SARDAA’s North Central Regional Committee Representative

Finding Paw Friendly Ice Melt Products

The copyright holder, Dogs Naturally Magazine has given permission for this reproduction.

Since you’re reading this article, you’re probably the kind of dog owner who knows the difference between what’s safe and not safe for your dog. But there are some things about rock salt – and its safer cousins – that might surprise you. When it comes to our dogs and winter, here’s something to ponder …

Why Do We Protect Our Cars But Not Dogs From Salt?

Think about what happens to it when you drive behind a salt truck in the winter. That rock salt will corrode the metal and paint of your car. So those of us who live in cold climates take our cars in every fall to spray on some goo that keeps the salt away from our precious cars. But we let our dogs walk unprotected on the same roads (and sidewalks) we’re protecting our cars from.

Try this experiment at home: Fill a zip lock bag with a few drops of water, add a tablespoon of rock salt and zip it up. Now feel the bag. You’ll feel that it gets hot. Now imagine how it feels between your dog’s toes.

Salt can get lodged in between your dog’s pads where it can heat up to around 170 degrees! That’s hot enough to cause burns. And the pain will cause your dog to lick his paws, which adds more moisture to his feet … and now the salt is on his lips and tongue too.

Rock salt can also irritate his gastrointestinal system … and even trigger seizures when eaten in large quantities (think about how much dogs lick their irritated paws after walking in salt). So if you didn’t know before, then now you know that you should keep your dog away from salt whenever possible! And you should use safer alternatives if you’re looking to melt snow in your own yard. But are those Pet Friendly alternatives safe?

Finding Paw Safe Products

With names like “Safe Paw,” “Safe-T-Pet” and “Ice Melt for Pets” those alternative products must be safe, right. But you have to look at more than the name to know if an ice melt product is really safe. Here’s an example …

Ice melt products can say “Pet Friendly,” or “Safer for Pets/Paws” on the label even if it’s still just rock salt. Because rock salt has jagged edges, they can just round it off and that apparently earns them the right to say it’s safe for paws!

Well, rounded rock salt might be safer than jagged rock salt, but that’s not really the point (no pun intended) … it’s still not safe for your dog (or the planet)! But there are some safer alternatives out there. Steven Vernik, Director of Operations at Gaia Enterprises Inc and creator of Safe Paw Ice Melter, shares some tips on finding the most pet friendly choices.

Before you buy, take the container off the shelf and look at the back label to see if there are any warnings. If you see something that says, ”Keep away from children”, the chances are high that it isn’t all that safe for your pet. If you see that it causes irritation to eyes, skin, etc., or that it’s harmful if swallowed, consider whether or not this product is truly safe or just a marketing ploy to get your money.

A good ice melter may carry a heftier price because the components that go into making a truly safe and good ice melter aren’t cheap. If you see a low price tag, you should be suspicious of what’s inside the bag. By mixing cheap chemicals as filler along with salt or other chlorides, manufacturers can say that their product is pet friendly or safer than rock salt when in reality, it isn’t much safer at all.

Here are the most common chemicals to be aware of when choosing ice melt products:

Chlorides: Salt is chloride based and this is the most dangerous form of ice melter. It’s also the cheapest because it’s mined from the earth and made into the shape you see, then packaged. Some examples of the many chlorides used are potassium chloride, sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, and calcium chloride. All of them should be avoided.

Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA): CMA is a relatively safe ice melter, except that it isn’t very effective and doesn’t last long. It’s therefore likely that if your product contains CMA, it’s mixed with salt and or other chemicals to boost its power. CMA is toxic and also extracts moisture from the surface, so be mindful of CMA products on wood decking, rubbers, plastics, etc. If you see CMA as an ingredient, you’ll want to know what else is in the product.

Urea: Urea is a pretty decent ice melter. It’s less toxic and less corrosive than chlorides. However, if it isn’t treated and modified, it’s somewhat toxic and is a pollutant (according to the EPA) because of its nitrates. Urea is also costly and expensive to make safe.

Modified Crystalline Carbonyl Diamide: This is a safe ingredient that acts like a sponge and has particulates that disrupt the hydrogen bonds.

Eco Safe Glycol: Glycols can be infused with components that power up its ice melting capabilities, including traction agents and special inhibitors to increase the safety of the product.

Colorants: Any colorants used should ideally be food grade

In summary, here are some things to consider when choosing an ice melt product:

  • Don’t look for a low cost product. The safe ice melt products use more expensive chemicals and are worth the extra expense.
  • Look for a product without any warning labels on it. If a product is not safe for you or your children, it’s not safe for your pets.
  • Look for a salt and chloride free product.
  • Visit the manufacturer’s website and read about the ingredients, or do some online research.
  • Finally, even though you may be using a pet safe product, your neighbors and city may not be, so it’s always a good idea after walking your dog to immediately clean his paws with plenty of lukewarm water, then dry them. Some dogs take a while to get used to booties but they’re another solution to keep paws safe.

Book Review – Michelle Limoges

What the Dog Knows by Cat Warren

Cat Warren writes about training her first search dog. GSD Solo was a singleton pup (meaning the only pup in the litter) who started out with its own set of challenges, compounded by an inexperienced owner which made for, shall we say, interesting training adventures. Evidently she didn’t like the dog as a pup and that he was a handful to train! Fortunately Cat was able to hook up with a trainer who could help them and so the story goes. Cat did manage to train Solo – this book is about that journey.

Solo and Cat Warren

The author describes many of her training opportunities, challenges, successes and ah-ha moments. Some of her descriptions were accurate – such as the best search dogs being ‘pains in the rear’; laying a solid scent foundation, the fact that dogs can differentiate between human and animal, and the folly of training HR dogs with pig pieces. I was interested and entertained by the fact that Cat’s training experiences mirror many of our own within SARDAA.

Through the book, Cat often refers to Andy and Marcia Rebman and their expertise in the search dog world. Some of us originally trained our HR dogs with Rebmans in the late 90s! She also covers a few subject areas that were vaguely relevant but not particularly germane to the book, such as chapters on Bloodhounds, police dogs, the Southwest Research Institute’s work on scent detection, and various stories of ‘body dogs’ and their handlers.

She writes a very down-to-earth account of her initial experience with law enforcement (LE). She was well aware of how volunteer dog handlers appear to LE “… they (dog handlers) can be an eager lot, with more verve than sense, overly sentimental about their dogs and naïve about the complexities of the law.”

Cat plainly idolizes the police K9 handlers as evidenced by a long chapter on her training experiences with the Durham, North Carolina police. She does write about the seriousness of searches and includes accounts of search experiences that do relate valuable lessons learned. She also confesses to her dog’s false alerts likely generated by her own body language and stresses the importance of proofing dogs off animals and the ‘human gaze’! She talks about how handlers/trainers can unconsciously create dependency and so advocates blind problems and double blind problems, which is excellent advice.

I enjoyed her pages on dog handlers’ bullshit, bragging, false claims and exaggerations of the dog’s capabilities. She even went so far as to talk about the Sandy Andersons of the world and their negative impact on search dogs generally. (Sandy Anderson was convicted and served jail time in the US for falsifying evidence that she claimed her dog found.)

Cat offers several gems such as –

  • There’s no shortcut to reliability except constant, diligent training.
  • Experienced working dogs may be capable of certain kinds of problem solving but it’s not their job to strategize.
  • Humans need to set their dogs up for success. Dogs need to be put in the right spot to do the job right. That means more than just being downwind. It means partnering with them.
  • Don’t be a ‘Zombie’ handler - one who doesn’t pay attention to the dog, and who thinks their dog is infallible!

I thought this was indeed a good book and well worth reading.

SARDAA Recent Photos

Top Row: Kayle & Gavin; 11 yr old Veteran SAR Dog B.B.; Belgian Shepherd Vie • 2nd Row: Gotta and Kerrie, Water Search (Gotta & Mary Ann), St. Albert Park Event • 3rd Row: Che & David, Taking a Break (Zane, Che, Gavin) • 4th Row: Parquetta, Boat Training (Cara, Cathy, Kerrie), Islay & Jake at Cabella's
Scent Dog News is produced quarterly by the Search and Rescue Dog Association of Alberta. All rights reserved; no part of this publication may be reproduced for any purpose without written permission from SARDAA. All correspondence pertaining to the newsletter should be sent to - Michelle Limoges, c/o PO Box 68098, 162 Bonnie Doon Mall, Edmonton, AB T6C 4N6 • Phone: (780) 468-6245 • E-mail: Web site: Articles, news, other information will gladly be considered for publication; SARDAA reserves the right to refuse or edit any material submitted.
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