DSRT (TAVISTOCK) is well equipped with Search and Rescue Dogs. We currently have 5 operational dog teams on our callout list.To become a search dog handler it takes a huge amount of commitment and dedication. All Search Dog handlers are fully operational team members first and have then chosen to progress on to become handlers.

On top of normal team training our handlers put in many more hours during the week including Sundays to maintain their dog’s level of training and fitness.

The required skills for becoming a Search Dog Handler are that they have all served a minimum of 12 months on the callout list and have the full support of the team management committee. They are away training once a month around the country and locations include Snowdonia, Lake District, Northumberland, Peak District and the Yorkshire Moors.

Our Search Dog handlers can be requested to attend any incident in the country and they are not just limited to Dartmoor. The Dogs all belong to their Handlers and they pay their vet and food bills.

Please find below some information below on our Search Dog Teams:

Nikki Lyons MBE and Search Dog Cavos:
Nikki has been a Search Dog Handler for almost twenty years. Cavos is her 3rd operational dog and they graded in Oct 2006. Nikki previously worked Dart and Bluie. In their already short career, they have been responsible for saving the lives of 3 missing children. Cavos is the son of an operational search dog (Storm) and both his brother Rusty, is in training (see below). Nikki is currently the chairman of DSRT (TAVISTOCK) and was awarded an MBE for services to mountain rescue and SARDA in the Queens birthday honours in June 2008.
Alex Lyons with Search Dog Max:Alex is the only Search Dog handler in England to of been a fully operational member of SARDA for over 23 years. Alex graded his first search dog Scruff in Feb 1987. Then went on to grade Mac and Aiken, now working his 4th operational search dog when they graded Oct 2007. Alex has had good finds with all of his dogs. Alex is the Stage 2 Training Coordinator for SARDA England.
Matt Robertson with Search Dog Scoot:
Matt has now completed his final assessment with Scoot. They passed their assessment in final  October 2008.
Matt and his previous search dog Amber were operational since 2001 and attended hundreds of callouts. They were responsible for saving the life of a missing elderly lady who was trapped in a marsh. For their actions they received a Chief Superintendents commendation. They also are previous holders of the SARDA Novice Shield. Sadly Amber recently passed away.
Catherine Jones and Search Dog Jilly and Search Dog Bizzy:
Catherine and Jilly graded in January 2007 and upgraded in January 2009.  Catherine found Jilly in a rescue centre and gave her a new life in Devon.
Jilly unfortunately has a condition which means she cannot work during the summer months, so Catherine trained Bizzy and and graded her in January 2010.Catherine is also the official vet to SARDA (ENGLAND)
Ian Bertie and Search Dog Ronnie:Ian found Ronnie, a Border Collie at eight months old at The Little Valley RSPCA Rescue Centre – Exeter in the Summer of 2009 and then started training her with SARDA. She is the first dog he has trained.In January 2011 they passed their search dog assessment in the Lake District and are now our fifth current operational search dog team.
One of the most valuable assets in training search dogs are our “Dogsbodies”. These are volunteers that give up their free time to lay around on the hillside in all weathers waiting to be found by our dogs. This dedicated group of people who mostly are not involved with search and rescue turn out rain or shine every week to help our handlers with training their dogs. The Tavistock handlers are especially grateful to Lyn S, John S, Lyn G, Helen A, and John P for their ongoing support and assistance in training our SARDA dogs.

During Recent years our Search Dog Teams have been recognised for their outstanding work. Below are just a few of their achievements:

Royal Garden Party 18th July 2006
Nicki & Alex Lyons by invitation of Her Majesty the Queen, had the privilege of attending a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace for the work they have undertaken with Search and Rescue dogs.They were presented to HRH the Duchess of Gloucester, who was very interested in the dogs and how they are trained for mountain rescue. “We had a wonderful day, a great honour to know that our work is appreciated”
Devon and Cornwall Police Constabulary Chief Superintendent’s Award Ceremony Powderham Castle (April 2005)
During the afternoon of Wednesday 30th June 2004 Police received a telephone call reporting an elderly woman missing whilst on a trip to a fishing lake near Holsworthy, North Devon.Local officers attended the scene and established the lady was particularly vulnerable due to memory loss and arthritis. Both the Exmoor Search and Rescue Team and the Search and Rescue Dog Association of England were requested and responded quickly to the rendezvous point.
All staff involved carried out a through search over a large area, which was both methodical and meticulous. After six hours searching, the lady was found sat in mud and brambles, dazed and in a badly confused state. But for the efforts of the Exmoor Search and Rescue Team and the Search and Rescue Dog Association of England this incident could have ended in tragedy. The lady has since made a full recovery. For their professionalism and public-spirited actions Chief Superintendent Terry has pleasure in awarding Search and Rescue Dog Team handlers from DSRT (Tavistock) his Commendation.

If you are interested in helping the dogs train by acting as a “Dogsbody” or want to find out more about them please contact the team or follow the link to the SARDA (ENGLAND) page.

Contacting Us

To contact the team please email by clicking upon the appropriate link below:

Mountain Rescue Video