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Officially established in 2017, Minnesota K9 Search Specialists (MNK9SS) is an all volunteer specialty unit focused on urban search and rescue.


MNK9SS seeks to provide trained dogs and handlers for the search and rescue of living persons who are trapped or incapacitated due to man-made or natural disasters, and to provide trained dogs and handlers for the search and recovery of deceased persons lost, trapped or drowned.

These services are provided to government agencies at no cost as a benefit to the public.

In addition, MNK9SS provides continuous training and education for its dogs and handlers to improve and develop its capabilities that will ensure competent and capable search teams and operations.



It takes a very special dog to meet the demands of the MNK9SS training program. The following characteristics are essential:


Bold, energetic, athletic! 

MNK9SS is looking for dogs that display intensity, focus and perseverance. A dog that not only wants to work, but needs to work! These dogs are usually very challenging in a family home.  

Extreme toy drive!

We need dogs with an obsessive, visceral response to a toy and an insatiable desire to chase, hunt and possess it!  


A disaster dog must be athletic and show no hesitation on unstable surfaces. Disaster sites will contain challenging footing and the dog must be agile and confident to do the job.  


Well-socialized, confident and personable! 


Our dogs must approach strangers (human or canine) with a neutral or curious, yet agreeable attitude. They cannot be aggressive or fearful. On the job, they encounter many distractions while they search for survivors: other people, animals, food, trash, and loud noises and through it all they must remain focused on the job at hand.

Can ignore loud or sudden noises!


A dog that is able to ignore all other noises at a search site and focus on the search is a must. Sirens will be blaring, large machinery will be operating and other rescue operations will be going on at the same time the dog is searching. 

Loves to search!

MNK9SS wants dogs that will continue to hunt for the toy that has been hidden for them- regardless of whether they find it! Determining the dogs' hunt will allow us to determine the strength of the dog's drive and give us an idea if they would be successful in this line of work. 

The breed!


The traits we are looking for are commonly found in the hunting and herding breeds. These include Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois and Border Collies. A mix of these breeds is just fine too! 

Excellent health!


The dog must have a strong endurance and the capacity to withstand temperature extremes. These dogs must be able to work confidently and without injury on uneven surfaces over time.


Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) is coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and task force members are available to respond to catastrophic events involving the collapse of heavy steel, concrete and wood frame construction.


USAR members are highly trained and their special skills allow them to work in extremely dangerous conditions, from natural disasters to domestic incidents. 


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