K9 Handler (Entry Level)


All K9s utilized by ALSAR are department owned and assigned to a handler. All expenses including foods are paid for by the department. We do not allow handlers to use their own K9.

The K9 Handler is responsible for managing and utilizing search and rescue dogs to locate missing persons. They will work closely with other field team members and coordinate with the Field Team Leader and Incident Command.

The K9 Handler is a pivotal role within Alabama Search and Rescue, responsible for the training and handling of our search and rescue dogs, ensuring they are mission-ready to locate missing persons swiftly and effectively.

Bloodhounds are renowned for their scent trailing abilities. They utilize their acute sense of smell to follow a specific human scent trail, even over long distances and challenging terrains, making them invaluable for locating missing persons. On the other hand, HRD Cadaver K9s are trained to detect the scent of human remains. They are essential in search and rescue missions where the objective is to locate deceased individuals, providing closure to families and aiding in investigations.

Training Schedule:

As a K9 Handler, you will be expected to train with your assigned K9 three or more times per week. Training is crucial to maintaining the readiness and efficiency of the K9s and is conducted on your own schedule, allowing for flexibility and accommodation of individual circumstances.

Living Arrangements and Provisions:

Your assigned K9 will live with you, forming a strong, trusting bond essential for effective teamwork in the field. We understand the importance of the well-being of our K9s and therefore provide food and cover all medical care needs to ensure the health and readiness of our four-legged team members.

Additional Considerations:

Being a K9 Handler requires dedication, a sense of responsibility, and a deep understanding of the working dog's needs and capabilities. It is a rewarding role, allowing the handler and K9 to be a beacon of hope for those in need.

Physical Demand
Technical Expertise
Administrative Work


  • Regularly train and develop the assigned K9’s skills, ensuring the dog maintains a high level of proficiency in search and rescue tasks.
  • Keep up-to-date with the latest training methods and standards in canine search and rescue.
  • Oversee the daily care, health, and wellbeing of the assigned K9, including regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and adequate exercise.
  • Ensure the K9’s living environment is safe, secure, and conducive to the dog's wellbeing.
  • Deploy with the assigned K9 on search and rescue missions, following established protocols and guidelines.
  • Work collaboratively with other team members and units, optimizing the effectiveness of search efforts.
  • Maintain accurate records of training sessions, missions, and the K9’s performance and health status.
  • Report any issues or concerns related to the K9 promptly to the relevant authority.
  • Represent the organization positively during public engagements, demonstrations, or educational events.
  • Educate the community on the role and capabilities of search and rescue dogs and promote responsible dog ownership and behavior.
  • Actively seek to enhance knowledge and skills related to K9 handling, search and rescue operations, and relevant technologies and equipment.
  • Participate in workshops, conferences, and other learning opportunities to stay informed about the latest developments in the field.
  • Effectively coordinate with incident command, other handlers, and team members during missions and training.
  • Adhere to all safety and operational protocols.

Must Have

  • A background in working with dogs is essential; experience in training dogs is highly desirable.
  • Ability to meet the rigorous demands of search and rescue operations, often involving challenging terrains and conditions.
  • Flexibility to train regularly with the assigned K9 and to be available for missions, including on short notice.
  • A strong commitment to the well-being and training of the assigned K9, as well as to the mission of search and rescue.
  • Ability to work well with other handlers, search and rescue personnel, and communicate effectively within the team.
  • Knowledge of canine behavior, needs, and learning processes is crucial.
  • Openness to ongoing learning about search and rescue techniques, K9 training methods, and other relevant knowledge areas.
  • Ability to work effectively with a K9 partner and human team members.

Nice to have

  • Previous experience in training dogs for specific tasks such as scent detection, tracking, or search and rescue is a significant advantage.
  • Relevant certifications in dog training, animal behavior, or related fields can be advantageous.
  • Basic knowledge of canine health and first aid can be beneficial.
  • Prior experience in search and rescue operations, even without a K9, can be valuable.
  • Proficiency in navigation, wilderness survival, and knowledge of local terrains and environments can be helpful.
  • Experience in interacting with the public and the ability to represent the organization positively in various settings.