Air Scent Dogs

cora german shepherd search and rescue dog


Our current canine capability focuses primarily on air scenting. An air scent dog works by picking up human scent that is primarily airborne (hence the term). They work off lead, ranging away from their handler, sometimes out of sight looking for scent.  This is ideal in an area of wilderness where few humans are present and one must find anyone in the area. The dog must always be under the handler’s control via verbal commands and hand signals and must possess a strong trained alert to notify the handler of a find. Once the dog finds human scent, they follow it to the source. Once the dog finds the subject, they will return to the handler, give a trained alert (bark, jump, etc.) then do a refind. A refind occurs when an air scenting dog leads the handler back to the subject after giving their trained alert.

K9 Standards and Certification Process

Our team adheres to the NYS Federation’s K9 standards for all K9 team certifications. This means all of our operational, mission ready Air-Scent K9s have successfully passed 5 certification tests.  The first three tests are done by another operational Amigo K9 handler. Theses tests consist of finding someone off the trail, finding someone walking in a 20 acre area and finding someone in a 30 acre heavy brush area.  Once the dogs have proven their skills with these three tests, the dogs are tested by a off team Federation tester  for a 40 acre night test and 100 acre, 2 subject daytime test.

Human Remains  Certification consists of testing three different areas that could contain 0-2 sources buried, elevated or on the surface. All Human remains tests are done off team by a Federation tester. Cadaver Only dogs/handlers must complete the advanced  human remains test in order to become operational. amigo w 2 The purpose of these test is to prove that the K9 team can assist in searches for deceased individuals.  Many K9 teams also complete outside testing with organizations such as Eastern Police K9 and IPWADA to demonstrate more advanced HRD skills. We also train and certify for water recovery as well.




Our members (both human and K9) are always pursuing certifications and continuing education to allow us to provide the best possible resource for search and rescue operations.


Our member’s certifications include:

  • NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Basic Wildland Search Course
  • NY DEC Crew Boss
  • PA Department of Conservation of Natural Resources (DCNR) Field Team Member
  • PA DCNR Field Leader
  • Red Cross First Aid/CPR
  • HAM Radio
  • FEMA Incident Command
  • NY State Federation of Search and Rescue (SAR) Teams Operational K-9
  • NY State Federation of SAR Teams Human Remains Detection K-9 (HRD)
  • NY State Federation of  SAR Teams Water Recovery K-9
  • NY State Federation of SAR Teams Building Search K-9
  • NY State Federation of SAR Teams Snow Burial K-9
  • Eastern Police K-9 Association HRD
  • American Kennel Association (AKC) Canine Good Citizen (CGC)

In addition to certifications our membership is trained on topics such as:

survial amigo sar k9 dan williams handler hrd human remains tend shelter
K9 Handler Dan Williams practicing shelter building 


  • The Incident Command System/ NIMS
  • Wilderness Navigation using a map/compass/GPS
  • Search Techniques
  • Wilderness Survival techniques
  • Mantracking\clue awareness
  • Helicopter operations
  • Missing person behavior
  • K-9 Behavior
  • Scent Theory
  • Lost person behavior
  • CPR
  • First Aid
  • Wilderness survival
  • Outside of team seminars and trainings

Amigo Search and Rescue Dogs are very supportive of team members training with

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