Using Search Dogs to Find
All search dogs will pick up the freshest scent of the
animal, and track it instinctively. As a human or animal
walks along, it sheds approximately 10,000 pieces of scent
per minute. This scent falls to the ground and stays there
until the wind and air currents move the scent to nearby
dirt, sand, brushy vegetation areas. The scent is held there
until it fully dissipates about a year later. When an animal
or human walks in one specific direction it's laying down
scent that the trained search dog can track up to 365 days
later, even in the rain. Rain actually helps the scent. It
brings the scent closer to the ground surface, keeps the
search dogs nasal passages moist to help the dog retain the
scent, and it will liven the scent.
What hurts scent? Heavy
vehicle and human traffic contaminates the scent. Heavy
rains of 2" per day may wash the scent down. Heat dries out
the scent and the search dogs nasal scent receptors making
it harder for the search dog to track. Cigarette smoke
contains a poisonous drug called Nicotine. Nicotine is an
anesthetizing agent that can numb up the search dogs scent
receptors by 95% and make the search dogs basically useless.
If you smoke around your pet, the second hand cigarette
smoke poison that you are putting into their little lungs
(Nicotine) can also alter the missing pet's scent, and
prevent a search dog from tracking it. That's why all of our
team members are non-smokers. That's also why you are never
allowed to smoke around our search dogs or their handlers.
You are also exposing your pet to many types of respiratory
diseases and cancer.
Can search dogs track at night? Yes, of course we can. In
fact we prefer to track at night. Air molecules stay lower
to the ground at night and there are fewer scents to contend
with in the evening.
False tracks. A false track
happens when the animal walks one specific direction, then
the pet owner or someone else, walks on top of the pet's
scent (usually in or around the home). This transfers the
pet's scent onto the bottom of the person's footwear and
when the person walks or drives a different direction, this
person is now giving off a fresher scent of the missing pet
to track. This is called a false scent trail. There is no
way to prevent this from happening, it's a fact of life. The
only way that you can keep this from happening, is to call
Search and Rescue out immediately before you do any looking,
so as not to contaminate the track.
What happens when the search dog tracks to a specific
location and we can't find our pet? This happens on many of
the tracks. The pet will walk to a specific location and by
the time we get called, respond, and perform our track of
the missing pet, it has already been picked up by a well
meaning person to be cared for. The search dog will give you
a direction of travel of your missing pet and the location
of where your animal was picked up. You can then post your
lost pet posters in this area. 60% of our clients get their
pets back this way. This saves you time, money, and works
What if the search dog tracks
my pet to a specific location and we get reports of
sightings in a completely different area? It is not unusual
for someone who is well meaning to pick up a lost animal.
Soon the animal becomes too much responsibility for the
person to take care of. They then may take it away from
their own home and let it go. Usually at a nearby park,
school, or business. They may take it back to where they
found it and set it free, hoping it will find its way back
home. Or the pet may just break free from the person and try
to find its way back home.
How do we know the search dogs track was accurate? There is
never a 100% guarantee that we'll find your loved one. We'll
give it our best efforts. A SEARCH DOG doesn't know how to
lie. That's why their testimony in a court of law is
accepted, with training, testing, and mission documentation.
A search dog is trained to follow the track or trail of the
scent given to them by their dog handler. A mutual trust
exists between the dog handler and the search dog. There a
rare times where the search dog ends up following a false
track. This happens approximately once in every 300 searches
and it is usually caused by cross contamination.
Harry Oakes started in SAR, May 1972. with
Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office with MCSO LE Post# 900 /
631. Portland, Ore.
1974-1977 US Army Military Police assisted
in MAST Medicvac’s.
1978 Worked as a SAR Coordinator with
Morrow County Sheriff’s Office in Heppner, Oregon.
1986 active member / instructor with
Portland Mountain Rescue and co-founded the search dog
program Oregon D.O.G.S. for the state of Oregon in 1986.
1987. Harry then founded the Non profit K9
SAR team of Mountain
Wilderness Search Dogs.
1997 Founded the for profit professional
International K9 Search and Rescue Services.
Here's the break down of Harry’s SAR Calls. All documented,
and all accepted in the courts of law. Reviewed and verified
by the Oregon Department of Justice.
Since 1986, I've received over 9,386 SAR calls around
1,843 have been for missing person cases. 7,543
cases have been for evidence, and missing pet cases. I've
performed 310 Consulting cases re: the missing
person calls. I've documented through law enforcement and
the US Govt, 185 Direct live Finds of missing
the LE, Govt., and private families in finding 139
What this means is that various LE Agencies, private
families, and government agencies have turned to my SAR
expertise, SAR coordination skills, and ability to read air
currents, search dogs alerts, scent and scent evidence and I
was able to directed search teams to a particular area which
helped them find the missing person(s) alive. Totals;
324 live finds.
332 humans dead directly. I've assisted the LE and Govt.
and private families in finding 84 dead victims
indirectly with my search dogs leading LE and private
family members to specific locations. What this means is
that various LE Agencies, private families, and government
agencies have turned to my SAR expertise, SAR coordination
skills, and ability to read air currents, search dogs
alerts, scent and scent evidence and I was able to
directed search teams to a particular area which helped them
find the missing person dead. Total victims located dead
416. Total Finds and Assist
Finds Humans 740.
Again all these
cases are documented by date, times, locations, names,
places, agencies and have been reviewed by the Dept of
justice, local law enforcement and other agencies and has
Finding just one person alive or dead gives a search dog
Harry Oakes has a documented 99% accuracy level at finding
the victim or determining what really happened to them and
Mr. Harry Oakes
International K9 Search and Rescue Services
Please contact I.K.9.S.A.R.S. for current updated SAR
missions list and stats at