Incorporated in 1990, Mid-Atlantic D.O.G.S. (MA/D) is an experienced and dynamic search and rescue organization. We are committed to providing skilled canine search and rescue teams to missing person emergencies. Our members are prepared to respond 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

MA/D teams respond to approximately 50 requests for assistance per year. In addition to volunteering considerable amounts of time each month, MA/D members supply their own equipment, use personal vehicles to get to and from searches, training exercises, and demos. They pay for all of their dog’s expenses and often use their vacation time from work to be available for searches. Operational members are trained in crime scene preservation, wilderness navigation, survival, search and rescue techniques, and first aid.


MA/D members also offer a variety of informational and educational programs as a community service to schools, service clubs, and other organizations. The programs include how the dogs are trained, how to avoid getting lost, what to do if you are. In many cases, members are qualified to present the Hug-a-tree program.

How air scenting dogs work 

An air-scenting search dog is trained to scan the air currents for the scent of a human being. The dog locates the source of the scent and indicates it to the handler. A search dog will alert on any human scent - alive or dead, even underwater in a specific area. The dog is not restricted to the missing person’s track and can search effectively days or even weeks after the track has been obliterated. The dogs can work well in areas that have been "contaminated" by previous searchers. They can search day or night in most kinds of weather, including rain and snow. In addition to wilderness and undeveloped tracts, the dogs can be effective in rural or suburban areas. They can search groves of trees, overgrown vacant lots and fields, abandoned buildings, junkyards, and city parks. They are especially effective where human sight is most limited - in the dark, in dense woods, heavy brush, trash, or debris.

How trailing dogs work

A trailing dog is trained to find a specific person out of all the other people. They usually start with an article of clothing from the subject, however, they can be started from the last known location, i.e., from a car seat. Trailing dogs can follow trails days old, but the sooner they are started the better. A trained scent discriminating dog can tell if an article is from the missing person or someone else.

How water dogs work  

Trained dogs are capable of detecting human scent from under water. They can work in moving water or still lakes or ponds. The dogs can work out of a boat or from the land alongside the water.


MA/D personnel undergo extensive training and evaluation before they are designated as operational.  See "Prospective Members" for more information.

How search dogs are deployed

MA/D only responds to requests for assistance from official agencies. Each dog/handler team is assigned an area to work. Handlers use wind, terrain, and subject characteristics to effectively search the sector. Tasks are systematically assigned to cover the entire area. Dog teams can work immediately after foot searchers have left an area. They can be coordinated with other search resources.

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