Our Mission


To provide, without cost, trained search-and-rescue personnel and K-9’s to the law enforcement agencies of Vermont and New Hampshire to assist them in their efforts to locate lost and missing persons.

Search Skills


New England K-9 SAR is a full-service airscent K-9 unit with over 35 years of search experience. At most wilderness search calls, we provide 5-10 dog/handler teams with field navigator/medical support from the Upper Valley Wilderness Response Team In addition to dog/handler teams, we provide our own radio communications and computer support, mapping software, printed maps, and GPS technology. Each dog/handler/field assistant team (2 humans & one dog) will efficiently and effectively search a minimum of 80-160 acres in their first shift of 3-4 hours. The combined landmass for the first shift response is up to the first ½ mile surrounding the Point Last Seen (PLS). These teams are all managed under an “Operational Leader” through our own communications base run by 1-2 radio operators. Our base is linked directly to search management and is under their overall command. All personnel are also trained in crime scene preservation.

Our wilderness-certified dog teams are trained to find the subject whether they are alive or deceased. We have successfully recovered human remains missing from a few days up to 6 years. We also have teams trained to locate subjects who may be under water, in debris or buried in snow.

Organization Description & History


Founded in 1981, New England K-9 Search & Rescue is an all-volunteer wilderness K-9 search & rescue organization of 15-20 members. We provide life-saving assistance at no cost to the citizens and law enforcement agencies of Vermont and New Hampshire. We respond to nearly 50 searches a year for lost elderly, children and hikers.

Our handlers cover all their personal expenses: dog care [food, health], outdoor equipment, and travel costs for training and searches. We specialize in hasty response – meaning our teams are on the road within 15 minutes of call-out. In addition to wilderness lost-person searches, we train for local disaster response for live and dead victims whether it is a dam collapse where we search debris, a snow-collapsed shopping center, or a serious flood. All our dogs are trained to find victims whether living or deceased – whether on land, drowned, or buried under snow or debris.

In addition to our primary role as a search & rescue organization, New England K-9 Search & Rescue has made a strong commitment to educating children and adults about outdoor safety. We reach over 1500 school children yearly with presentations, search demonstrations with our dogs, and take home “Lost Proofing” literature. These programs are provided free of charge by our members.

What Happens When We Are Called


For most searches, we’ll be able to send 6-10 certified airscent dog/handler teams. Many teams will be on the road within 15 minutes of our callout. This initial response gives search management the opportunity to search the first 1/2 mile of land surrounding the point last seen within 4-6 hours and they’ll only be managing a small number of trained resources.

At every search, one of our senior handlers acts as OL (operational leader) for the unit. Together with search management, the OL will assign our teams based on the terrain and type of search situation. We also provide our own communications base operations (1-3 radio operators) with mapping software and GPS technology for precise placement of teams in the field and for recording and analyzing coverage of areas searched.

Additionally, when NEK-9 SAR is activated for a search, we bring in field assistants and ground search/wilderness medical support from the Upper Valley Wilderness Response Team. Since 1998, NEK-9 SAR and UVWRT have formed a highly successful cooperative training and deployment relationship designed to provide ground search support for navigating with dog/handler teams while searching, and then taking medical control of any found subjects.All of our services are provided FREE to law enforcement and the families of those who are lost or missing.

Who We Work With


New England K-9 SAR must be activated for searches by law enforcement,. These are the agencies we work for in our primary service area: