Serving the Southeast Region since 2005

Huntsville search dog unit

About Us

Huntsville Search Dog Unit (HSDU) is an all-volunteer search and rescue K9 unit based in Huntsville, Alabama. HSDU trains and maintains certifications for three disciplines of search and rescue K9s: land human remains detection, area search, and man-trailing. HSDU can assist in searches for missing persons (alive or deceased) in wilderness, rough terrain, urban, disaster, and water settings. We also regularly assist law enforcement agencies and fire departments in searches for missing persons and/or evidence in cold cases.

HSDU works with local, state and federal agencies. Our K9 handlers and support personnel receive extensive training in search operations and theory, traditional search methods, and in air scent and scent discrimination. All personnel are also required to maintain certifications from the National Association for Search and Rescue to ensure all responding personnel have the necessary skills and fitness levels required for field performance. We also have certified EMT's volunteering for HSDU.

Additional support personnel from HSDU respond to assist with search operations and logistics. Each member is paged for rapid notification and responds with sufficient equipment and supplies to ensure self-sufficiency with their K9 partner in a rescue/disaster environment for an extended period of time. HSDU operates in cooperation with other agencies and follows FEMA protocols as part of the total rescue operation.

HSDU will respond to any location at the request of the local, state, or federal authority. With our unique skills, the Huntsville Search Dog Unit stands ready to assist any person or agency upon request as a public service without compensation.

HSDU is a 501(c) 3 non-profit


Air Scent

Area Search K9s are trained to locate any live human scent. These K9s work off lead and are used to cover a large wilderness area quickly. Area search K9s are trained to ignore other K9 search teams in the area. Area search K9s can assist in searches for lost and missing persons in wilderness and disaster settings.

Human Remains Detection

Human Remains Detection (HRD) K9s are specially trained to locate and perform an indication for decomposition odor. These K9s ignore both animal and live human scent. Our HRD K9s are proficient in both land and water searches. We can assist in location of lost and missing persons, presumed deceased, in wilderness, confined spaces, disasters, and assist in location of evidence in active or cold case crime scenes.


Man-trailing K9s are scent specific. They require a scent article to discriminate the subject from others in the search area. Man-trailing K9s are able to find a lost or missing person's direction of travel and are able to work in urban areas.

Our Dogs

Ari has been in SAR for 5+ years and her favorite thing in the world is her tug toy! She is known for her speed and agility, allowing her to quickly and efficiently cover large search areas.

Dixie is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. She loves to play ball and comes from field trail lines (Sire: Prairie Sky Patterson)

Bash has been in SAR for 5+ years and loves playing tug, chasing his ball and swimming!

I’m a little shy around new people but I’m a very friendly pup. I enjoy being outside and going on adventures with my human. Mom is my best friend and has been ever since she let me live with her when I was a lost puppy. Cuddle time is the best part of the day. Well, right after zoomies with my favorite tiny humans and wrestle time with mom. She says I’m the best wrestler because I never get tired or fall for her shenanigans! I used to get picked on for my short snoot but I proved how awesome it works and I always find my smells. I love my doggo friends and helping people. Overall I’m a happy pup and I love what I do. I have so much fun outdoors and wanna do cool dog stuff forever!

Join Us

Training is held weekly on Tuesdays and Saturdays. All K9s are trained on both training days. All personnel assist in training all disciplines of K9s. HSDU trains area search, mantrailing, HRD canines.

Saturdays also include training in skills needed during deployment. These skills include map, compass, and GPS skills, rope skills, clue consciousness, and crime scene preservation.

HSDU accepts individuals 18 and over that are willing to work hard and achieve the required tests for deployment.

All ages are welcome to volunteer to train with the team. We are always in need of those willing to hide for our man-trailing and area search K9s.

If you are interested in joining, please contact us
for a list of training dates and times.

Huntsville Search Dog Unit © 2023