Summary of position expectations

During a deployment a Canine Search Specialist’s (CSS) primary responsibility is using their trained search dog to locate people who are lost or trapped after a disaster.  Those people may be living or deceased.  Our CSS are more than just dog handlers.  They are search specialists.  They are subject matter experts in many different search techniques and tactics used to find people after a disaster strikes.  They are trained to use search cameras, listening devices and physical search efforts in addition to working their canine.  They often assist with search data collection and damage assessments.  When the team isn’t searching, all of our members are busy with “other duties as assigned”.  That can be anything from directing traffic to serving food and cleaning facilities.  Our members work hard to make sure the team is self-sufficient while we are deployed.


  • Carry 50 lbs.
  • Able to live and work in an austere environment



Completion of the following training is required prior to deployment as a CSS.

  • FEMA Canine Search Specialist Course
  • FEMA Canine Search Team Certification
  • GPS Operations
  • Rope Rescue Awareness
  • Trench Rescue Awareness
  • Duties of the Entrant
  • Rope Rescue Skills
  • Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Confined Space Awareness
  • CPR
  • Critical Incident Stress Management
  • Enhanced Operations in a Contaminated Environment
  • FEMA USAR Orientation
  • Hazmat Operations for First Responders
  • Structural Collapse Awareness
  • Water Rescue Awareness
  • WMD Awareness


  • Operational Readiness or Mobilization Exercise
  • Search Team Skill Sets,
  • Canine training daily in your home area and weekly in College Station


The following training is recommended for all CSS


Anticipate spending approximately 19 days completing your required training in your first year of membership.  Subsequent years should require 7-10 days of training time.  Many of these training events fall on week days. 

This does not include your canine training time.  You will need to train with your canine partner every day.  You should plan to spend at least one day per week (typically on a weekend) training in College Station or training with other TX-TF canine search specialists around the state. 


The Task Force will provide you with much of the gear needed for training and deployment, but there are some things you will be personally responsible for.  The lists below will give you a good idea of the equipment you will be personally responsible for. 

You are financially responsible for your travel to training in Texas.


  • Sleeping gear
    • The TF will provide a cot and sleeping bag
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Boots
    • The TF will provide one pair of wide area search boots to each member
    • You will need to provide structural collapse boots (ref ansi info)
  • Canine Gear bag (30 inch rolling duffle recommended)
  • Canine food container
  • Canine boots, eye and ear protection
  • Extra collars and leashes for use in contaminated environments/decontamination process
  • Long line
  • Canine sleeping pad


You will own and care for your canine partner.  Our canine search specialists spend an average of $10,000 annually out-of-pocket to cover these costs.  The list below will give you an overview of the costs associated with the canine.

  • Appropriate living accommodations for the canine (yard, kennel, etc.)
  • Purchase of canine or adoption fees
  • Canine food and supplements
  • Food and water bowls
  • Canine veterinary care
    • Preventative care (heartworm treatment, flea/tick prevention, annual vaccinations
    • Post injury care
  • Crates for the canine (minimum 2; one in the home and one in your vehicle)
  • Leashes, collars, training collars
  • Canine reward items (treats and toys)
  • Cost for travel to and from training every week can add up quickly. We recommend calculating that cost and adding that to your anticipated expenditures.