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March Charity Spotlight on Capital City Canine Search and Rescue

By 4Knines Staff. | Giving Back

“So That Others May Live” - This is the life-saving mission of the Wyoming nonprofit Capital City Canine Search and Rescue (CCCSAR). Since 2001, Capital City Canine Search and Rescue has partnered with law enforcement by providing operational search dog teams to help locate lost people, living or deceased, and reunite them with families and friends. More than half of CCCSAR’s search dogs proudly come from rescues and shelters.

These well-trained dogs are certified, along with their dedicated handlers, in one of four disciplines: wilderness (air scent), trailing, human remains detection, and water recovery

Wilderness (Air Scent)

Air scent dogs work with their noses in the wind to check the airflow for the subject’s scent. Air scent dogs can be scent-specific, looking for the scent taken from a scent article. These dogs are trained to ignore everyone in the area except the subject. When a scent article is not available, dogs will search for all human scent in the search area. 


Similar to wilderness dogs following air scent, trailing dogs follow a trail on the ground where unique skin “rafts” have fallen. Handlers will work their dogs in the area the person was last seen to find the direction traveled.

Cadaver/Human Remains Detection

When a person has been missing or lost for a long time, or if a known accident has taken place and a person is assumed to be deceased, CCCSAR handlers use cadaver dogs to search in the areas the person has been.   

Water Recovery

When a person has gone missing in a lake or deep river, water recovery dogs are able to pick up the scent of the victim as it rises through the water and escapes into the air. As a team, the handler and dog typically work from a boat or along the shoreline.

CCCSAR dog handlers come from various backgrounds and bring with them unique experiences, but all share one commonality - a love of dogs and a dedication to helping the missing. Handlers attend workshops and trainings to develop skills in navigation, wilderness survival, crime scene preservation, canine first aid, and other competencies. To keep skills sharp, canine teams practice together twice a week and hold quarterly Search And Rescue Exercises.

Serving as a CCCSAR volunteer is rewarding but is also costly. Achieving a certification costs an estimated $2,000, which does not include the normal costs of pet ownership. In addition to initial certification costs, handlers must also outfit a 24-hour-pack and pay for ongoing training and other required certifications, which often involve traveling out of state. These all-volunteer handlers cover their own expenses and accept no reimbursement from law enforcement. 

4Knines is proud to shine a light on the ongoing efforts of Capital City Canine Search and Rescue. With your help, they can do even more, and there are many unique opportunities! Please join 4Knines in supporting CCCSAR with your tax-deductible donations. By doing so, you will help Capital City Canine Search and Rescue continue their life-saving mission “so that others may live.” 

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