Mason-Dixon Rescue
Dogs, Inc.

"That Others May Live"

Volunteering for MDRD

Can I Just Come Out To Check Things Out and Hide for the Dogs?

Yes, the dogs are in constant need of new and different subjects to find so that they will continue to approach and indicate for every person they find. There are a lot of different "vibes" that are given off by different people in different situations, and we do our best to ensure that the dog is rock solid in every situation. You can learn what Search and Rescue is all about and can help us at the same time by giving the dogs a new experience. Think you can outsmart the dogs? We give you a challenge that in any given area, the dogs WILL find you wherever you are.

Want to Help in Other Ways?

If so, help is always needed with fundraising, marketing, liaison, and administrative support.

What are the Requirements for SAR Dogs and Their Handlers?

Volunteering for a search and rescue unit can be a rewarding experience, but it demands hard work, dedication, and a long-term commitment. No experience is required, but SAR dog handlers must enjoy working with dogs and being in the outdoors in all kinds of terrain and weather. They must be physically fit and able to respond to emergencies. They must become proficient in land navigation, map and compass, GPS, search strategy, radio communications, wilderness survival, and first aid. Search and Rescue demands a lot of commitment of both time and money. New members can acquire gear as it becomes necessary to help diffray costs, but members are responsible for their own gear. MDRD provides services to agencies at no cost and members are not compensated.

Requirements for the SAR dog include trainability, agility, endurance, and the ability to get along with other dogs and people. The foundation of the search dog needs to be an intense desire for their reward (toy or food). The dogs work hard and long for this reward and it is the only way to keep them motivated and on task. A search dog is a valued member of his handler's family, and he regards all people as his friends. SAR dogs are usually the medium-sized working and sporting breeds of dogs. German Shepherds, Labradors, Border Collies, and Golden Retrievers are among the best breeds for this kind of work.

If you already have a dog we will evaluate him for suitability in SAR. However, we strongly suggest that you come out to training before considering getting a new dog. It takes a special kind of dog AND handler to make it in Search and Rescue. There is no rush for you getting a dog, because there will be A LOT for you to learn even without a dog. Having some knowledge and advice under your belt when going to pick out a SAR dog will help you make an informed choice and also help limit the amount of mistakes you make in the dog's training.

What Does It Take To Be Operational and Respond To Searches?

MDRD averages about 30 searches per year, mostly when it's dark and/or bad weather when time is critical for the subject's life. A member can respond as a flanker with an operational handler after completing requirements that typically take 1 year or more. To become an operational dog handler it takes at least 2 years of training, at least twice a week, before a team is mission-ready.

How Often Do Members Train?

Often members train several times a week on their own time. Group training occurs every Tuesday night and typically one full day every other weekend. In addition, a timeline of progression and certifications is required for searchers, including NIMS courses, navigation, first aid, CPR, Crime Scene Preservation and Field Team Member certifications.

Where Are We Located?

There is no physical home base of MDRD, however, we are centralized around Harford County. Members come from surrounding areas including Abingdon, Baltimore, Fallston, Elkton, Woodbine, Denton, and West Chester, PA.

More Questions?

If this sounds like something you would enjoy, or if you have more questions, send an email to