Greater Houston Search Dogs (GHSD), was formed in Houston in 1997 when the need was recognized for an
organized search effort utilizing qualified dogs to locate missing persons. Since inception, the
organization has grown and diversified with the utilization of other animals to assist in the search
effort. Currently the program is training horses to use their scenting abilities to give a natural alert
to the rider when a human is in the search area. GHSD is researching other avenues for scent
detecting animals and will combine the talents of each animal to bring closure for families in crisis.
Our organization consists of people from the community who go through intensive training to learn
how to train an animal as a search partner and are taught search skills necessary for working in
difficult conditions. Senior members guide new members and utilize the team concept to accomplish
the goals of our mission.
The animals on our team are the real heroes and are treated with respect and kindness. We do not believe
in abusive training methods and will not allow them to occur within the organization. We maintain the
health of all our search animals and keep them in the best of condition so they may do their job with
enthusiasm. It is our belief that an animal will work its heart out if it loves finding people and is
rewarded for doing so. This is why we work very hard to ensure the animals are socialized with people
from the minute they are born. We have people feed them and engage in play with their favorite toys so
they equate people with good things happening. The
positive reinforcement they receive builds trust,
which is the one of the most important qualities between an animal and a human.
Our desire to give to the community is based on a need within each of us to do something good in life.
That is why each member of GHSD was chosen and that desire is what drives all of us to achieve our goal.
The road is not an easy one as it requires long hours and dedication. The first time a handler makes
a find they are able to realize that all the years of hard work are finally worthwhile. It is a sweet,
emotional, and very proud moment in the life of that handler to recognize how valuable an asset their
partner has become. If a handler is in this business for any length of time he or she will also shed many
tears. The tears may be tears of joy when a child is returned home safely, but unfortunately they are
often tears of sadness. This is a difficult job to do when a child has been murdered or when a
devastating disaster causes the loss of many lives that affects hundreds of families. The heart of a
handler becomes very heavy with the burden of searching for the missing especially when family
members beg them to find their loved ones. Many handlers find they can not handle the stress and
leave the field or turn away from their own families and are unable to express how they feel.
This field is not for everyone. If you wish to volunteer in search and rescue, please think long
and hard about the consequences and the dedication needed to do the job. Discuss this with your family
and make sure you have their support and understanding. The last few years have been some of
the most incredible years of my life, however I have paid the price emotionally. During my journey I have
met the most amazing people who have enriched my life and made me realize what is truly important. I
have grown as an individual in ways I never imagined.
Would I do it again knowing the emotional pain I would feelů.yes.