Who We Are
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The primary, ongoing mission of BRSAR is to provide pet and human SAR (Search and Rescue) support whenever possible at low or no cost to the pet owner or family member.
Black River Search and Rescue, Inc owes its origins to a peculiar little dog named Sydney – a Labrador / Carolina Dog mix that had been donated to Karl Allen to be trained as a Narcotics Detection Canine for a police department. During training, Sydney showed great potential in finding marijuana, but had no desire to find other drugs, or even track humans. Although she had terrific intelligence and a phenomenal personality, she washed out of the program and went home with Karl to become a pet / couch potato.
When a litter of pups was born to a rescued hound at Karl’s home, Sydney stepped up to become a great baby sitter, and always accompanied Karl and the pups when they were exercised. One day, after Karl had laid a trail for the pups to track as a pack, 2 of the puppies became separated from the others in some bushes. Karl called them repeatedly, but the pups were playing and not paying any heed. As a joke, Karl told Sydney, who was sitting beside him, to go find the pups. Sydney looked at Karl, and when he gestured toward the noisy, wayward puppies then told Sydney to go get them again, she actually went and retrieved them, herding them along out of the brush and to the other pups.
Later, Karl started encouraging Sydney to track the pups after exercise and training. She showed an aptitude for tracking and seemed to truly enjoy it. A few weeks after telling a local veterinarian about Sydney’s new-found hobby, Karl received a request to try and find a beagle for another client of the veterinarian. (We found the beagle, by the way. After tracking him several miles, he circled back home and was waiting for us there!)
Tracking with Sydney was fun, but as she grew a little older, and sustained a few injuries, she lost interest. After retiring from the Sheriff’s Office he was working for as a Bloodhound Handler, Lucy, Karl’s Police K-9, showed signs of depression from not working. Karl decided to volunteer for Search and Rescue (SAR) along with Lucy. After a few times having their services refused by law enforcement agencies, Karl decided to see if Lucy would track lost dogs. She was outstanding at finding lost pups! Then she branched out to finding horses.
We started an informal rescue organization, taking in unwanted, lost and abandoned Bloodhounds then rehabilitating them and determining if they had an aptitude for trailing. If they had that desire, they were donated to police or SAR organizations. Otherwise, appropriate homes were found for them. Over time, the rescue started taking in other breed dogs who were in bad shape and needing help. Any dogs who could not be placed for whatever reason stayed with Karl and his always patient wife, Carol. At this time, there is a core of about 14 dogs of all sizes, breeds and attitudes living pampered lives with BRSAR.
Concentrating on pet SAR Operations, Karl relied on Lucy for a number of years with backup from Big Jake, another retired Police Canine. Lucy, with help from Jake, is credited with the direct or indirect (the pet was found as a result of her determining the area the subject was in) rescue of well over 100 dogs and horses. On one case, Lucy positively identified the 11 day old trail of a lost 3-legged dog! She trailed the subject for a number of days, finally determining that we were chasing the dog in circles. With advice from Karl and continued coordination with the owner, the local community and support from people as far away as Australia, Germany and Japan, the lost dog was found and reunited with her mom 34 days after she went missing! Lucy’s pet SAR career spanned over 7 years following her police retirement.
Thankfully, prior to Lucy’s untimely death in October 2015, her pup (at this point an adult policeman-trailing certified former K-9) Ginger, was able to initiate her training for pet tracking. Ginger took to the process like a duck to water! No matter the terrain or environment, Ginger has proven to be a very reliable, dedicated and enthusiastic tracker. She has trailed dogs in 100(+) degree heat for miles on end, day after day to finally capture her subjects. On August 24, 2016, Ginger successfully trailed and discovered her first lost horse – with no previous training on tracking horses! Ginger and Karl have since been relied upon by the local Sheriff’s Office to reconstruct the theft of a registered mare from a boarding facility. The horse was subsequently recovered safe and sound. Other cases included an escaped rodeo bronc that led the team on a trail of over 8 miles.
About Black River Search and Rescue
We started an informal rescue organization, taking in unwanted, lost and abandoned Bloodhounds then rehabilitating them and determining if they had an aptitude for trailing. If they had that desire, they were donated to police or SAR organizations. Otherwise, appropriate homes were found for them. Over time, the rescue started taking in other breed dogs who were in bad shape and needing help. Any dogs who could not be placed for whatever reason stayed with Karl and his always patient wife, Carol. At this time, there is a core of about 11 dogs of all sizes, breeds and attitudes living pampered lives with BRSAR. We are unable to accommodate and additional rescues at our facility at this time.
Where We Are Now
We have expanded our team to give Ginger some relief on tracking with three young donated Bloodhound pups –Dani and Codi in 2016 and then Pippa in 2018– who are rapidly learning their trade. Dani has become a very reliable and experienced tracker, with multiple finds to her credit. Codi and Pippa are showing great potential in training and on lost pet cases. We are able to contact and field up to 20 search volunteers locally with people who are experienced with pet SAR. For searches out of the local region, Karl, the team, and the hounds often spend numerous days and nights away from their homes on search operations. We have at our disposal, a motor home that is borrowed for use as needed. We are raising money with the goal to be able to continue providing the best SAR operations possible without having to expend personal funds. We are also accepting donations of equipment and funds to purchase equipment and technology to support our searches.
We have obtained a truck that is being modified to serve as our new deployment vehicle. Once completed, it will provide a safe and comfortable environment for the hounds to travel and rest in during operations. It also has the space to transport 5 adult humans as well. We do need to raise a little more money to make the additional modifications to ensure absolute safety for the Bloodhounds.
How We Got Started
After over nine years of operating an informal Pet SAR organization, friends and family encouraged Karl to apply for and obtain (effective February 2017) charitable designation so that he could accept tax deductible donations to off-set expenses associated with SAR operations. Volunteers have been very enthusiastic about stepping up to accept positions of responsibility in the daily operation and fund raising for Black River Search and Rescue, Inc.
The primary, ongoing mission of BRSAR is to provide pet and human SAR support whenever possible at low or no cost to the pet owner or family member.