THE ASSOCIAÇÃO Portuguesa de Cães de Busca e Salvamento, a Portuguese association of search and rescue dogs, is a humanitarian, non-government funded association that teaches dogs and their owners how to become part of search and rescue teams. These teams can be deployed anywhere in the world to aid in the event of a disaster, writes The Resident’s journalist Louise Pimm.
The association is responsible for the organisation of testing and certifying rescue teams, by running courses to teach members of the public and their dogs the skills needed to carry out search and rescue. In Portugal, the association is based in the north of the country, but Jorge Amador, marketing director of Pestana Golf Resort in Carvoeiro, has taken the step of setting up a branch in the Algarve, to form, develop and promote canine search and rescue teams. Anyone who has a dog can attend the courses, which in the Algarve are led by two Bombeiros who have been trained to the highest level of this discipline.
This will be the first time that search and rescue courses have been run in the Algarve and any dog can take part. Big, small, mongrel or pedigree, all are welcome to learn this potentially life saving skill. For example, in response to the recent mudslide in the Philippines, two trainers from Portugal and their dogs flew over to help with the rescue mission.
Jorge wants to create a nucleus of the association in the Algarve, an operational team that can be deployed to help anywhere in the country, as well as worldwide, in response to natural or manmade disasters. The Algarve branch hope to put on exhibitions throughout the region to show the public how dogs can save lives and Jorge plans to take the trained dogs to local schools to teach children about the amazing abilities of our canine friends.
The nine-day course, costing 125 euros, is split into four modules. Each module deals with a specific aspect of the search and rescue training programme, from your dog’s obedience level to the skills needed to carry out rescues in the water or in the mountains, and searching for survivors following earthquakes, land slides or floods. Each module ends with a written examination and practical test in simulated disaster conditions.
If you pass the tests, you will be awarded with a certificate that will allow you to carry out search and rescue with your dog, as well as teach others this very important skill.
The first course, starting on March 25, will be based at the association’s office in Armação de Pêra. The second scheduled course will begin on April 2.
Money from sponsors helps to fund the programme, but the Algarve branch of the association is in need of volunteers, helpers and staff to man the office, prepare the meetings and organise the accountants. If you would like more information about the association, visit their official website www.apcbs.org. If you would like to volunteer or sign up for a course, contact Jorge Amador on 282 340 900, 961 042 819, fax 282 340 901 or e-mail [email protected]