The Search Dog division of the Hellenic Rescue Team was founded to support the rest of the HRT’s divisions in the missing person’s investigation. In particular, specially trained dogs assist in finding trapped victims after an earthquake, detect survivors in the snow after an avalanche or identify missing persons in open areas.
The department is managed directly by the Central Administration of HRT and consists of members from the annexes of the Organization all over the country. The head of department is appointed by the Board of the Central Administration and she / he sets his assistant.
The department’s training schedule includes local meetings of dog handler teams, per region and an annual nationwide training for all groups. Search Dogs division participates in training exercises of the Urban Search and Rescue teams of all local HRT annexes and also to nationwide exercises and readiness scenarios.
The Search Dog division was established in 2002 under Bob Kastaniotis’s management, with whose efforts the Hellenic Rescue Team joined the International search dogs agency, IRO . With two search dogs initially (Igko and Zoe) and himself and Marina Kalaitzi as handlers, the Search Dog division participated in many training exercises and was a part of the HRT’s mission crew at the powerful earthquake in Algeria. In 2007, Katerina Batsioudi is designated as the head of the department. On the first year of operations, the department already has two search dogs, Proteus, with Katerina Batsioudi as operator and Ira with Frederick Valsami as operator from our Corfu HRT Annex. In 2011, Nick Psathas, from HRT Messinia Annex, is designated as Assistant of the Head of Division. He is the operator of Orpheus at the same time, and the department participates, for the first time, in the World Congress of the IRO in France, gaining useful experience and knowledge. Today the department counts 11 search dog operator groups, pioneered by the HRT Larissa Annex with four dogs and eight assistants which assists in training and the operations of the department.
Search Dogs department’s daily training makes it as one of the most demanding group of HRT. The special relationship that exists between a handler / operator and his dog and the rewarding results of detection on a search and rescue mission is the most important reason for us all to try to improve every single. We love and put all our dedication to our four-legged companions because we admire their abilities to serve with selflessness and unconditional love for us humans.