There are four main areas of search training for a unit. VSRDA specializes in Wilderness, but also sends dogs out in searches concerning: Disaster, Human Remains Detection and Water Recovery. Each specialty requires different skills for both the Handler and the canine.
As of June 2012, VSRDA has a record number of Operational dogs: 15! And 19 dogs are in-training.
Wilderness / Area SearchAll operational unit members have the necessary training to locate missing persons in wilderness situations. All canines are trained in this discipline. Handler training includes advanced skills in such areas as emergency first aid, land navigation, and grid searching.
DisasterSpecific unit members and their canines have had specialized training in disaster response. These members have received their training from and are volunteer members of the Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue Team and can be deployed immediately on all natural or manmade disaster searches.
Human Remains DetectionSpecific unit members and their canines have had specialized training in the location of human remains and related criminal evidence. We abide by the ARDA Standards for detection of human remains. This is considered a Specialty.
Water RecoveryIn 1979, VSRDA pioneered the use of canines for water recovery. Specific unit members and their canines are trained to locate subjects that are either partially or totally submerged. VSRDA can respond to requests involving any body of water including lakes and seashore. This is considered a Specialty.