Dog Meet, the state’s premier training conference for search and rescue canines, is coming to Kitsap.
Handlers, instructors, and of course, the dogs themselves will converge on the Kitsap County Fairgrounds Sept. 9-11, 2011. Grants from the Planet Dog Foundation and the American Kennel Club fund the event, which is hosted by a different search and rescue unit each year.
This year’s event is being hosted by All Breed Canine Search and Rescue (ABCSAR), which is the K-9 arm of Kitsap County Explorer Search and Rescue. For more information on the program or to become a member, go to www.kitsapesar.com.
Here’s more from the press release:
Search and rescue dog handlers travel from all over North America to attend this annual conference, which is hosted by a different Washington state SAR unit each year. This year’s event is funded by generous grants from the Planet Dog Foundation, and the American Kennel Club.
The theme of Dog Meet 2011 is “Saving Lives, One Sniff at a Time.”
About 150 dog handlers are expected to attend, with the added benefit of a boost for Silverdale-area restaurants and hotels.
“This is a great chance for both experienced and beginning dog handlers to meet, share experiences, and receive some top-notch training,” said Bruce Ramey, chairman of ABCSAR. “And how can you not have a good time with 150 dogs around?”
Dog Meet 2011 will feature a number of internationally-known instructors.
Kevin George, an expert in K9 behavior and motivation. He heads the first volunteer SAR unit certified by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the province of Alberta.
Andy Rebmann of K9 Specialty Search Associates, Kent, WA. Andy has been involved in search work and K-9 training since 1972. He is a retired trainer for Connecticut State Police. During his career, he trained K-9 teams for patrol, narcotics, explosive, arson, wilderness, disaster, water and cadaver work.
Marcia Koenig, also of K9 Specialty Search Associates, has been involved in volunteer search dog work since 1972. She was a founding member of the American Rescue Dog Association and the Texas Unit of ARDA. She is a founding member of Northwest Disaster Search Dogs and King County Search Dogs.
The conference will also take some time on Sunday, Sept. 11 to honor the human and canine heroes of the World Trade Center attacks.
ABCSAR members are all volunteers, as are most search and rescue dog handlers in Washington State.
“We depend on these volunteers when someone goes missing,” said Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer. “There is no sheriff’s office in the state that could field the number of people and the specialized skills necessary using paid staff.”
SAR dog handlers spend about 400 hours per year training on weekends and at night to be ready when their local sheriff’s office calls for assistance. Their dogs live with them as pets until the call goes out and they respond as a team.
ABCSAR is grateful for the support of Planet Dog and AKC to help make this the best Dog Meet ever held.
The Planet Dog Foundation is providing $7000 toward this year’s Dog Meet. Since January 2006, the foundation has provided almost $1,000,000 in cash grants and in-kind product donations to enable more dogs help children and adults in need.
The American Kennel Club’s Companion Animal Recovery (CAR) Canine Support and Relief Fund has provided $5000 in support of the conference. The CAR Fund provides more than $400,000 annually to not-for-profit animal shelters, search and rescue groups and veterinary units that support animal rescue.
SAR volunteers are unpaid. Other than gasoline reimbursements for actual missions, volunteers bear the cost of providing this valuable service.
“This event is another example of how Kitsap County residents take care of themselves, and others,” said Phyllis Mann, the county’s director of Emergency Management. “I am constantly impressed at how our local citizens step up when there is some need to be filled.”