K9 Beau. Photo by the South Carolina Search & Rescue Dog Association.

Four K9 teams with the South Carolina Search & Rescue Dog Association (SCSARDA) have attained national certifications.

According to a press release, Mitch Henderson with K9 Remington, Sarah Hey with K9 Brand, Nancy Jocoy with K9 Beau, and Maria Pellegrino with K9 Duke all received certifications from the North American Police Work Dog Association.

The teams were certified in trailing, search and rescue, and cadaver detection.

Trailing certification requires the teams to search for hidden subjects and objects on a 1.5-mile trail that includes various terrain such as vegetation, pavement, and water. Search and rescue (SAR) certification requires a dog to clear an area while off-leash, finding and alerting the handler of a hidden subject.

The cadaver detection test requires dogs to search for human remains in 12 environmental scenarios such as rubble, water, open wilderness, vehicles, buildings, and buried.

“SCSARDA is very fortunate to be able to field NAPWDA-certified teams in three disciplines — trailing, area search, and land and water cadaver detection — to assist emergency services agencies in finding missing persons,” said Pellegrino, president of the SCSARDA and a registered nurse anesthetist at Greenville Health System.

K9 Duke with handler Maria Pellegrino of SCSARDA detailing the outside of a structure. Photo by the South Carolina Search & Rescue Dog Association.

“It is a real privilege to serve agencies in South and North Carolina and also to lead this team, which is full of very talented and dedicated human beings and some uniquely skilled K9s,” she added.

The SCSARDA is an all-volunteer professional search and rescue team that helps emergency services agencies across the Upstate and Western North Carolina find lost children and hikers, people with Alzheimer’s disease, drowning victims, and others.

All four teams have training in lost person behavior, managing the land search operation, and other advanced SAR courses.

Jocoy, a senior quality engineer at the American Red Cross, is experienced in search and rescue work and has completed prerequisite courses, including Crime Scene Preservation, search management, and Incident Command System courses.

Hey, a marketing strategy and brand management consultant, has seven years of experience and has taken a number of required courses in orienteering, survival, CPR, and ICS. She and Brand had previously passed internal SCSARDA testing, including a 40-acre night test and a daytime 100-acre test.

Henderson, a residual operator at Spartanburg Water and volunteer fire fighter, has five years of SAR experience.

For more information, visit scsarda.org.

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