Sarda Wales needs £20,000 annually

Sarda Wales needs £20,000 annually

Volunteers whose dogs help find missing walkers and mountaineers are pleading for the public’s help in funding their group.

The Search and Rescue Dogs Association Wales has handlers and animals who help in a wide variety of incidents from rescues on the Welsh mountains to searches for missing children.

Its members need thousands of pounds a year to run the organisation, but have missed their target for the last two years and are appealing for help from members of the public and businesses.

Rob Johnson, a dog handler himself and Sarda Wales’s media officer, said: “It costs about £20,000 a year to keep the team of dogs and handlers trained and operational.

“We are all volunteers; all of our time is given free of charge but we have to raise that £20,000 between training our dogs and attending searches.

“Many people don’t realise that although we are a specialist component of mountain rescue we have to provide our own funding. We don’t receive any from the teams that we work with.

“Over the last two years we have not met our costs and desperately need your help in raising much needed funds.”

Mr Johnson said the association provides a search and rescue service to the police, mountain rescue and Coastguard.

“This involves about 80 to 90 callouts each year for missing children, vulnerable adults, dementia patients and hillwalkers and mountaineers,” he said.

“Our searches are diverse and just this year vary from an eight-year-old autistic child in Wrexham, a missing elderly person from a care home, several suicidal adults and the search for a missing hillwalker on Snowdon.

“We do not just focus purely on mountain areas but regularly work in towns and villages across north Wales with our trailing dog teams who can follow the scent specific trail of a missing person.

“Our air scenting dogs then quickly and efficiently clear open countryside, woodland, beaches, sand dunes and gardens.”

Each dog team costs about £2,000 to equip

Each dog team costs about £2,000 to equip

Mr Johnson said each dog team costs about £2,000 to equip with the necessary equipment such as radios, waterproofs, buoyancy aids, GPS units and dog jackets.

He added: “We spend almost £10,000 a year on our training weekends which are held every month. With handlers and ‘bodies’ travelling from far and wide we need to provide them with accommodation and food for the weekend.

“If you can help by giving a donation, sponsoring a training weekend or perhaps providing free accommodation for 30 people on a training weekend we would be very grateful.”

He said individuals can donate via the Sarda Wales website.

Companies interested in sponsoring a training weekend are asked to email the association.

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