It’s a common scene on television and in the movies: search and rescue dogs called out to help track a missing person. But for VCA associate Trish Moutard RVT and her family, aiding in the search for missing people is a passion that has helped save real lives.

Trish, veterinary technician supervisor at VCA Loomis Basin Veterinary Clinic in Loomis, CA, and her wife Kristi are both trained search and rescue (SAR) dog handlers. Between them, they have raised and trained eight SAR dogs over the last three decades. They currently own two SAR dogs who are certified in various types of searches, one who is retired, and a fourth who is currently in training. Trish and Kristi are members of the California Rescue Dog Association (CARDA) and the Sacramento County Sheriff's Search and Rescue team. 

When she was seven years old, one of Trish and Kristi’s veteran SAR dogs, Please, was instrumental in a life-saving search for lost cross country skiers.

Trish and Please were called out to the mountains, where a couple of tourists were missing. They had been out in the cold wilderness overnight after getting lost cross country skiing. A rescue team had found the car the skiers drove to the trail, but needed help figuring out which direction they had gone. 

As soon as she was on the scene, Please got to work. 

“We get to where the vehicle is parked, we're looking around and all you can see are cross country ski tracks, and you can't tell whose are whose,” remembers Trish.

To the human eye, it was impossible to tell which way the pair of skiers had gone. But the dog’s instincts and training immediately kicked in.

“She first went across the street and you could see the cross country ski tracks that were there,” Trish recalls. “She put her head up into two or three of those and came back, went around the Jeep, and suddenly she took off. I watched her go off to the right and then come back and go forward, and then come back and then go to the left. Then she turns around and she barks at me like, ‘It's got to be this way.’”

Rescuers hopped on snowmobiles and followed the ski tracks Please had pointed out. Before long, they found the skiers hunkered down under a ledge, where they had managed to survive the night. 

Please was a hero.

Trish is careful to point out, however, that the work rescuers do is a team effort.

“It's not what I would call a dog find, but it is a team find,” she says. “It's because we had the resources that we pooled together and were able to get our snowmobiles on the right path to be able to find them and brought them back out, and they were fine.”

Since search and rescue team members like Trish and Kristi are volunteers, they donate their time and cover the cost of transportation, training, equipment, and dog expenses. 
VCA Animal Hospitals proudly supports canine search and rescue volunteers by providing them with the exceptional care we’re known for – at a special discount. We understand the valuable service these animals provide the community, and we’re committed to helping them stay healthy. As a VCA associate, Trish helps to deliver this care on a regular basis. 

“And any of the sheriff's department dogs that come in on emergency, you watch everybody essentially stop what they're doing if it's at all possible and do everything they can for that dog so that they can get it back out there to be able to help the community, for sure,” she says.

Thank you, Trish, Kristi, and your dogs for your dedication to the community. And thank you to all of the VCA associates who contribute to the important work search and rescue dogs do by keeping them healthy.
“VCA Animal Hospitals proudly supports CARDA’s canine volunteers by providing them with the exceptional care we’re known for.”