Online voters can help Monroe search and rescue organization win a Land Rover Defender

MONROE, CT — Resources in Search and Rescue Inc.’s tracking dogs and volunteers have assisted police, firefighters and emergency management organizations with searches for missing persons since 2009. Among the cases, the nonprofit, which is based in Monroe, has helped find missing and injured hikers, alzheimer’s patients, children and drowning victims.

“We never discuss searches we’ve been on, but I will say for all of us whose dogs helped find someone, sometimes it’s painful, but there’s nothing more gratifying than bringing a person home to their family,” said Cathy Kohut, one of RSAR’s founders.

Kohut founded RSAR with Tracy Harding and Christine Clark, who is no longer with the team.

“We have eight certified teams, many of which are duly certified in two disciplines,” she said, adding dogs can be certified in live find, human remains detection and drowning recovery.

Currently, members pack their own vehicles for searches, but residents can help RSAR win a Land Rover Defender, outfitted with the equipment the nonprofit needs to turn the vehicle into a command and recovery center that can navigate difficult terrain, while transporting two dogs and the organization’s boat, a specialized vessel for dogs to search from. It would also have their decal.

Voting is still going on for the Search, Rescue & Emergency Support Services Award, an online contest presented by PELICAN with six other categories. RSAR’s video was among hundreds of submissions from the U.S. and Canada and the Monroe nonprofit was chosen as one of five finalists.

To vote, click here. The same person can vote once a day. The deadline for public voting is 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 4. Kohut said she believes the contest winner will be announced in November, though the final tally will not be revealed.

More about RSAR

Kohut said RSAR’s founders were motivated by watching dogs work during 9/11. “Their sense of smell is many, many times greater than ours,” she said. “We’re modifying their instinctual ability to hunt and we teach them to focus on a target odor.”

Among the tracking breeds RSAR uses are German shepherds, English shepherds, a smooth coated collie, a springer spaniel, a Dutch shepherd, malinois and a kerelian bear dog.

The nonprofit has a team of 12 volunteers. Members have National Incident Management System (NIM) certification, as well as certifications in CPR, first aid or higher, navigation, crime scene preservation and search management.

“We have at least one former K9 handler and we have several police officers on our team,” Kohut said. “Most have worked with dogs in several capacities and recognize their skills. Our desire is to be of service and we found our way to search and rescue.”

RSAR responds to an average of 10 to 12 calls a year and only when called upon by emergency service agencies.

“We are certified by the International Police Work Dog Association,” Kohut said. “Our certifications are recognized pretty much nationally, but our focus is on Connecticut.”

Kohut said it is nearly impossible to quantify how valuable the Land Rover Defender would be to RSAR if they win the top prize. It would be their command vehicle and communications hub, with mapping software and team management.

The Land Rover would also be valuable as a rehab station when dogs get cold, overheated or injured.

“It does happen,” Kohut said. “Our dogs have gotten injured and overheated on searches. We have participated in searches in brutal weather.”

Kohut said she is grateful for everyone who voted for RSAR online and shared the voting link on Facebook.

“Our deepest and most sincere gratitude to everyone who has supported us and continues to,” she said. “We’re overwhelmed and deeply touched by their support.”

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