Who are We?

Sandia Search Dogs (SSD) is an all volunteer organization that provides primarily wilderness search and rescue (SAR) services for lost people within New Mexico and the surrounding states. Training dogs for human search and rescue is our specialty. Our members are diversified in background, and vary in their daily professions, but all have a common interest in outdoor activities and a love for dogs. We apply a broad background of mountain and wilderness skills and experience to search and rescue missions in all terrain and weather conditions. SSD responds to SAR missions throughout New Mexico and the Southwest area. Most often the team will be dispatched to SAR missions within the Sandia, Manzano and Jemez Mountains or the wilderness areas adjacent to Albuquerque. As a state recognized search and rescue group, we respond to requests from the New Mexico State Police or other agencies to assist in missing person emergencies.

What can SAR Dogs do?

Search and Rescue dogs are valuable resources in community efforts to find lost or missing people. They can work day or night, in most kinds of weather and terrain and are especially effective where human sight or access may be limited. All humans constantly shed microscopic skin particles. These particles, which bear a unique scent for each individual, can be transported by the wind or deposited on vegetation and other surfaces. The air-scenting SAR dog finds people by pinpointing the highest concentration of scent suspended in the surrounding air. Air scenting can be successful long after the person has been reported missing since the victim will still be emitting scent. The trailing SAR dog locates people by following the path of scent deposited on the ground or vegetation as a person moves through an area. Because this scent is affected by humidity, temperature, and time, it is vital to field a trailing dog as soon as possible after the person becomes lost.

SAR Dogs are called upon to find: children and other individuals lost in wilderness, parks and urban areas; elderly persons who have wandered away from family gatherings, homes and special care facilities; overdue hikers, hunters, and fishermen who may be injured, sick or lost. Specially trained dogs may also locate deceased victims of accidents and suicide on land and in or near water.

SSD does not search for lost dogs, pets or other animals.

What are Our Goals?

SSD strives to maintain a cadre of highly skilled and well-equipped search and rescue responders with a canine search speciality focused on the timely and accurate location of persons lost or missing in the wilderness setting.

The Team cross trains in a multitude of other SAR related aspects in order to provide well-rounded resources available to all wilderness search and rescue in New Mexico.

More about our Mission and Team Philosophy.

Search Response Policy

By State Law the New Mexico State Police (NMSP), under New Mexico Department of Public Safety, coordinate and control search and rescue activities within the state. Representatives of the NMSP will contact Sandia Search Dogs to participate in a search and rescue mission. Occasionally, local police agencies, or a governing agency from out of state may also activate the team. In all cases, the team must be requested to participate in a mission.

How is SSD Financially Supported?

SSD is an all volunteer group and we do not charge for our services. Members supply all their own personal equipment. When on an official SAR mission, the State of New Mexico reimburses vehicle fuel expenses. Our team, which is organized as 501(c)(3) non-profit New Mexico corporation, is financially supported through donations from individuals and groups. Donations are used to purchase team equipment, educational materials, and to support training. All donations are tax-deductible.

Sandia Search Dogs, 10725 Edith NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113