Inca, a German Shepherd with the Champlain Valley Search and Rescue K-9 unit, takes a break during a search in northern New York.
Keeseville The Champlain Valley Search & Rescue K9 Unit (CVK9) wants people to get muddy for a good cause.
The all-volunteer non-profit search and rescue unit based out of Keeseville assists local agencies with wildland search and rescue for lost children, hikers or hunters, and have been called all around the country following natural disasters for urban search and rescue, as well as cadaver recovery.
“The year we had all the tornados we were called all around the country. We would touch down at home, then get called out again,” said Shannon Bresett, one of the founding members of the group.
The group has been around for several years, but officially became a not-for-profit, and incorporated in 2009. They operate totally on a volunteer basis. They currently have six dogs either in service or in training, and two who have retired.
In this area, Bresett says, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is the agency first called out for K-9 services, but her unit is often called in soon after.
“The air dogs are the first guys we send out, like when a child has been missing for a half hour or so,” Bresette said. “After that comes the tracking dogs.”
As a last resort the unit calls on Inca, their cadaver dog. Inca often gets the most work of the group.
While they operate primarily under mutual aid in Clinton, Essex, Franklin and Warren Counties, they are not eligible for the same grants that fire departments receive, since they are not a tax-based municipality.
“Fund-raising is an integral part of our budget. A majority of our money does come from fund-raising,” Bresette said.
When they were brainstorming for fund-raising ideas, the idea of an adventure challenge race came up, and the inaugural CVK9 Dirty Dog Fun Run was born.