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A brief history of the evolution of search dog organisations in New Zealand to to the
present body, LandSAR Search Dogs Inc
The history of LandSAR Search Dogs is fairly well documented. On Friday 18th April 2008 a meeting of interested people was held via a conference call to discuss the formation of an organisation for search dog handlers. A five person interim committee was formed with Andrew Pealing Chairman, Kim Charles Secretary, Iain Watson Treasurer, Dave McKinley and Chris Martin. A previously circulated constitution was approved and the organisation was incorporated shortly thereafter.
The history of nationally organised search dog activities somewhat predates this. Information from Robert Gibson indicates he established in Wanaka on the 10th August 1988 the New Zealand Alpine Search Dogs Inc “for the purposes of training and assessing search dogs in all fields of search to the international minimum standards”. “Many training and assessment
camps were held nationally both in wilderness and avalanche in conjunction with the police up to 2007 when sponsorship ceased”.
As a national SAR organisation, NZLSAR had its first association with search dogs in December 1998 when it sent its National Field Officer to a three day training camp organised with the Dunedin SAR Dogs by Marcus Milne. Around late 1999 NZLSAR realised its Specialist Subcommittee under which a number of specialist skills used by SAR was too much for one person to manage and a paper was circulated discussing the merits separating them out into stand alone entities. NZLSAR continued to provide some funding. In a report to the national body in March 2000 Peter Cameron as the Specialist Subcommittee Chairman reported on a successful camp run by Marcus in Dunedin.
In late 2001 Tric Moller picked up the Specialist Subcommittee Chairmanship and the search dog reins and continued with a lot of positive progress. Support by NZLSAR continued until a number of courses for firstly bush/wilderness and then avalanche training and assessment were being held annually in each Island.
However when NZLSAR evolved into LandSAR the Subcommittee structure was done away with and there was a small hiatus in drive, funding and training which prompted the birth of LandSAR Search Dogs as we know it.
John P Tristram with apologies for any errors or omissions. 22 July 2010