Getting Vetted

 A team of vets from the RCVS were guests of Serve On's dog team volunteers.

A team of vets from the RCVS were guests of Serve On's dog team volunteers.

It wasn’t the Veterinary practice they are used to, but an intrepid group of vets from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) had a special day of search and rescue instruction from Serve On volunteers.

They got to carry out a close-up examination of our search dogs…. and found them in excellent working order.

The vets had won a unique experience day with our K9 team after entering the PetSavers (http://www.petsavers.org.uk/) competition at the BSAVA (British Small Animal Veterinary Association) Congress in April this year.

They arrived at our Chilmark training area to be given a brief presentation about our charity by K9 team leader Andy Harris and operations manager Craig Elsdon and when they were given their essential Personal Protection Equipment – overalls, helmets and gloves – they surely knew they were in for a hands-on event.

 Serve On dog team volunteers instruct vets from the RCVS on the different dogs' search routines and different handlers' methods.

Serve On dog team volunteers instruct vets from the RCVS on the different dogs' search routines and different handlers' methods.

It began when they were introduced to some of Serve On’s search dogs and given a demonstration of each canine’s different search techniques and some instruction on the dog handlers’ methods.

Then it was time for them to put the lessons into practice.

 Vets from the RCVS took it in turn to guide search dogs to find a hidden 'casualty'.

Vets from the RCVS took it in turn to guide search dogs to find a hidden 'casualty'.

Taking it in turns, some of the vets went to hide in the buildings on the Chilmark site while their colleagues used their new dog handling skills, and their canine assistants, to try to find them.

The result was that every member of the team succeeded in finding their ‘casualty’ (and every member of the team failed to successfully hide from the dogs).

 Vets from the RCVS were sent into the tunnels that Serve On's International Response Team volunteers use for collapsed building/search and rescue training in earthquake scenarios.

Vets from the RCVS were sent into the tunnels that Serve On's International Response Team volunteers use for collapsed building/search and rescue training in earthquake scenarios.

Their ‘reward’ was to be sent down into the tunnel system that Serve On’s International Response Team (IRT) volunteers use to train for collapsed building searches in earthquake scenarios.

Having survived the tunnel, the vets were shown a variety of the boats and equipment that Serve On’s Community Resilience Team uses in flood rescue, and got to practice some of the rescue techniques for themselves, like deploying throw-lines to a drowning ‘casualty’.

Lost, trapped under rubble or swept away by flood water….it shouldn’t happen to a vet. But if it did, the RCVS team now has some insight into how our volunteers – and our dogs – might come to their rescue.

*Caring for and training our search dogs is a full-time job for our volunteers and takes time, effort and money, not to mention dedication. If you can make a donation, no matter how small, it all helps, and don't forget you can contribute to Serve On just by doing your normal online shopping, via Easy Fundraising, Go Raise, Amazon Smile, and others.

To donate to the work of Serve On and its K9 Search and Rescue team:   https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/8008