Disaster Dogs of Illinois

"Lending paws in time of need, paws saving lives"


Disaster Dogs of Illinois (DDI) is committed to our goal of certification to the National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR) standards, National Search Dog Alliance standards and our continued training alliance with TOPS Kennels (Grayslake, IL).
DDI team members must be Certified to the NASAR SARTECH III level at the very minimum. All K-9 Handlers must achieve SARTECH II before they can certify to a NASAR standard or NSDA standard with their assigned K-9. Each NASAR certified team meets or Exceeds the FEMA 508-8 Typed Resource definition(s) for Search and Rescue.

Due to the expensive nature of this undertaking your continued support is desperately needed.

Disaster US&R (Urban Search and Rescue) Dogs are trained to search for live and deceased humans in various environments. These dogs are utilized to search collapsed buildings and other structures after, tornados, earthquakes as well as other natural and manmade disasters. Urban search and rescue dogs take a considerable amount of training and require a huge commitment on the part of the handler to maintain their skills. These search dogs are trained to be comfortable on collapsed buildings and other unstable footings such as roofing and rubble. USAR dogs are typically trained in agility, on and off leash obedience as well as distance (directional) control. Disaster dogs are capable of performing in the rigorous and harsh environments that are created by the disaster scenes that they are required to perform in

The Five Elements of Canine Search Specialist Training (CSST) are:

1)  Obedience
2)  Agility
3)  Directed Send
4)  Live Bark Indication
5)  Rubble Pile Search
Interested in Becoming a Handler or Handler's Assistant?


Sincere commitment, desire, and dedication are required to be a member of a K-9 Search and Rescue team. After all, lives are at stake; possibly a teammate's or your own. You should consider your lifestyle, commitments to home and family, and limits on your time when deciding whether to join us.

K-9 Search and Rescue is a physically and emotionally demanding volunteer activity. Search dog handlers give up time, money and resources to help serve their community and country. They spend hours training their dogs, both on and off the field.

You need to be physically capable and pass through some rigorous training to become a Search and Rescue dog handler.

Handler Assistant

You will assist a handler in all areas of K-9 training. Requirements will be to help in run aways, bark barrels, rubble pile, etc. You will have the opportunity to work with various DDI Handlers and K-9s. 

You Must Meet the Requirements to Join the Team

Individuals interested in becoming members are allowed a maximum of six training sessions before they must commit to candidacy.  Prior to acceptance of a Membership Application two or more Board Members will interview the prospective Candidate. In addition, the Candidate must pass a background check. The Candidate will be informed if their application has been accepted.  Becoming an active member and maintaining an active membership in DDI requires a substantial commitment of time. Please give careful consideration to your personal resources before submitting your application. The 6 month probationary period begins upon acceptance of the Membership Application by the Board of Directors.  After acceptance to the Team there will be an annual membership fee of $50.00. 

Probationary Period

The probationary period usually lasts six months. It's used to determine your commitment to the team and rigorous training schedule. While on probation, you must complete all other requirements and attend ALL team training sessions required for national certification. You must demonstrate your skills in the field and prove that you are physically able to meet the demands of USAR work.
Standards of Conduct


  1. Federal, state, and local laws shall be observed at all times.
  2. Members shall uphold the mission of DDI.
  3. Under no circumstances shall members use DDI for personal gain. 
  4. No member shall consume or be under the influence of any kind of illegal or performance-impairing substance while participating in or traveling to or from any DDI activity.
  5. Members shall conduct themselves in a professional manner and exhibit proper respect for others.
  6. Members shall accurately represent their experience, qualifications, expertise, limitations, legal standing, and other relevant information.
  7. The Policies, Procedures, Standards and established Operational or Administrative Instructions of DDI shall be followed at all times.
  8. Information obtained as a result of DDI search activities shall remain confidential.
  9. DDI supports the ethical, humane treatment and training of our canine partners. No abuse or neglect of animals will be tolerated.


Click here to download application

To return application, please scan and return to us via the following email:

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