Team Members

Dogs Bodies

Dogs bodies are one of the essential SARDA volunteers, who would happily hide any where in any weather for hours, just so the dogs can find them. Otherwise, without dogs bodies, there’s no one to find.


Damian joined SARDA IN in 2015 as a dogsbody and continue in that role to date.

Damian spends most weekends walking in the Mournes or Cooleys and have also travelled to Snowdonia, The Lake District, Wicklow mountains and climbed Carrantuohill on a couple of occasions.

“As a member of SARDA IN, I literally get lost in our wonderful countryside so that both dogs and handlers can carry out searches as part of their ongoing training.”



Lorna joined SARDA in 2012, as a body and is assisting us with organising collection days.

“I was afraid of dog’s and decided that I would get over my fear ,get some exercise and help a very wonderful charity. Since then I have completed my collapsed building training and mountain skills, organised many collection days and assisted many dog’s and handlers in their monthly training and assessment.”


The Mountain Rescue Search Dog

Mountain Rescue dogs are trained to work across or into the wind for the scent of a human being. They work quickly and efficiently, quartering huge chunks of mountain side as they progress forwards. They are most effective at night or in bad weather when visibility is limited, because they are not depending on their eyesight. A Mountain Rescue dog can pick up the scent of a person from as much as one mile distant, as has been proved by physically measuring such an event with a Mountain Rescue dog from SARDA(IN).

These dogs have often been compared to varying numbers of human searchers, but the figure quoted is somewhat anecdotal. It is true to say however, that the SARDA mountain dog can do the work of many mountain search personnel and much more efficiently because they do not have to physically see the person they are searching for. The dog is hunting for a scent cone which has its apex at the site of the missing person. Once in the cone, the dog will turn into the wind and follow the cone to source, namely, to the missing person.

Phil and George

Phil and his trainee mountain search dog George, a working English Springer Spaniel, have joined SARDA in 2015.

George can spend hours on end running and searching in the Mournes, just to get his favourite reward – tennis ball. He is progressing very well with his training and they are hoping to achieve Novice Grade by Autumn 2017.


Susan and Jessie

With a keen interest in walking in the mountains and training animals, Susan joined SARDA IN at the start of 2015 as a dogs body. In July 2015 Susan brought home a collie cross pointer pup called Jessie. Jessie soon started her training to become a mountain search dog. Jessie loves training and will hopefully qualify as a novice mountain search dog this year as a two year old.


Jonny and Lola

Jonny is a professional Mountaineering and climbing instructor. He has joined SARDA in 2016 and is training his setter cross dog Lola to become mountain search dog. Jonny also helps SARDA with organisation of mountaineering training.


Ryan and Gypsy

Ryan joined SARDA IN in January 2016. His love of Mountains and walking in the Mournes and his lifelong passion for dogs lead him straight to joining the SARDA team. Ryan wouldn’t be in SARDA if it wasn’t for his partner Gypsy. Gypsy is a stunning Belgian Malinois who is currently going through her training to become a qualified Mountain Rescue Search Dog. She has endless energy which makes her ideal for running through the Mournes searching for missing people. On her days off searching she enjoys getting her belly rubbed and going for runs on the beach.

The Trailing Dog

Trailing is something which NSARDA have been promoting for some time. Trailing dogs have proved invaluable in urban searches where they are not at all affected by the presence of other people.

A Trailing dog is scent specific, meaning that it will only search for the person from whom an article of clothing has been given to the dog to scent. It will then follow that trail even through a busy town, for up to 90 hours after the person has gone missing.

The trail left by a person is caused by tiny particles of skin which have come from the top part of the person’s body. These ‘rafts’ as they are called, are carried down wind and are being eaten by bacteria which then produces an odour, unique to every individual. The skin fragments become lodged in vegetation at the side of the road or at the base of kerbs or in cats’ eyes in the middle of the road. The dog will follow these skin particles for miles until it locates the missing person.

Neil and Paddy

Tom and Brooke

Gleb and Cali

The Drowned Victim Search Dog

Drowned Victim Search Dogs, (DVSD) have been trained to search for the odour of decay which comes from the drowned victim, to the surface of water and is then carried on the wind. The dog works on the windward side of a boat searching for the odour which will be imperceptible to the human nose.  On finding the scent cone, the dog will bark to let the handler know it has made a find. It is then up to the skill of the handler and the cox’n of the boat to use the dog’s body language, to narrow the search area down to a square measuring approximately 50 m by 50 m. DVSDs can also work from the shore, should  circumstances dictate and can be deployed on land based searches for buried bodies. The value of the DVSD is in bringing closure more quickly to the grieving family members awaiting the recovery of their loved one’s body.

Sarda IN were innovators as they trained the first DVSD dog in UK and Ireland.

Neil with Fern and Nelly