How do I join SARDA Scotland?

Search and Rescue Dog Handlers must be prepared and equipped to respond to persons in distress at any time of the day or night and in any conditions. This invariably involves operating in some of the most challenging weather and arduous terrain that Scotland has to offer. Often operating in small groups, SARDA handlers must possess the stamina, skills and fortitude to react to ever changing information and to be able to adapt to these changes positively. The role requires not only physical strength but also mental and psychological resolve as, despite our best efforts to save life, SARDA Handlers may inevitably find themselves undertaking pivotal roles during distressing and harrowing incidents.

The training process required to achieve the high standards necessary to competently discharge this valuable service is both intensive and committing; taking an average of 2 years to achieve Full Search Dog Team status. For this reason, training focuses purely on those aspects pertinent to operating a SARDA dog within this demanding role and, on the whole, does not include additional Mountain Rescue core competency/skills training. For this reason aspirant handlers must satisfy the following criteria in order to be considered for entry into training:

  • You should be able to evidence your personal mountaineering skills, training and/or qualifications (CV and Log Book/Training Records) including evidence of Scottish winter mountaineering experience.
  • You should possess a minimum of 2 years Mountain Rescue experience as a Full Team member (time spent as an aspirant/trainee will not count towards this qualifying period).
  • You must hold a positive written reference from your Mountain Rescue Team Leader verifying your skills and experience and recommending you as a suitable candidate to undertake SARDA training.

In addition to the formal criteria listed above you should also discuss your aspirations fully with your employer, and more importantly your family, before committing to SARDA training. Even the most experienced Handlers would testify that it would be impossible to operate effectively without this essential support behind them.

So what happens next?

If you think that this rewarding role is for you we look forward to receiving your e-mail, providing your name, contact details and a brief précis of your experience to the: Secretary.   A member of the Training Team will then get back to you in person to discuss your application in more detail and to provide additional information as required.

What happens if I do not meet the entry criteria?

We understand as an Association that you may be disappointed to find that you do not possess the necessary experience to join our Team as a Handler but please keep reading! SARDA Scotland could not operate were it not for tireless efforts of a myriad of supporters and volunteers undertaking other essential roles in direct support of the Association. These roles range from volunteer ‘casualties’ (usually hill walkers or mountaineers who give their time laying out in the hills for trainee dogs to find); business and trades who offer invaluable support and assistance in the administration and operation of the Association and valued friends who ensure that we possess the financial resources to continue to provide this essential service through a variety of donations or fundraising events. If you feel that you could offer your support we would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact the Secretary at: Secretary

Thank you for taking the time to visit our site and for your continued interest and support.