Founded in 1976, CARDA® is a 501(c)3 non-profit, and the largest volunteer search dog organization in America.

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Water dog: Searches for, and detects, human remains in water


Disaster dog: Searches for, and detects, inaccessible subjects


Trailing dog: Trailing is the following of an individual scent trail from a particular person. This dog is generally worked on lead, requires a scent article to begin searching, will follow the trail of the selected individual,

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Cadaver dog: Searches for, and detects, decomposing human remains.

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Wilderness Air Scent Dog: The air scent or area dog will generally work off lead and search for clues such as human scent in an area.

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Working dog breeds, are most suitable for search & rescue.

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Trailing dog: Is generally used to identify one particular individual’s scent from any other person. Trailing dogs are more appropriate for SAR missions than tracking dogs.

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The state of California includes rugged high altitude terrain. All SAR teams must pass tests, by type. e.g. Type 1 defined as extreme conditions, altitude (generally 7000’+) or snow, ice, desert, heat, heavy ground cover steep difficult terrain.


Air Scent Dog: Is used to search a specific area. It is not expected that an area search dog will require a scent article prior to searching but a scent article may be used at the discretion of the handler.

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Avalanche Dog: Searches for, and detects a subject, recently buried under snow.

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California Rescue Dog Association (CARDA®)


CARDA’s mission is to train, certify, and deploy highly-qualified search dog teams to assist law enforcement and other public safety agencies in the search for lost and missing persons.

CARDA search dog teams have participated in thousands of missing person searches and have saved public safety agencies millions of dollars through the use of volunteer resources. All CARDA services provided to requesting agencies and to the family of the lost person are free of charge. No person or agency is ever charged for CARDA’s services.

CARDA members incur all costs including gas, vehicles, training, equipment, and dog expenses. We rely on donations from the community to continue supplying this vital service.



PBS: Meet Zinka

CalOES SAR Charter and Certification Stds [CLICK TO LINK]