Individuals who meet the following requirements and criteria will be eligible to become Canine Handler. The intent of these requirements is to select handlers fully capable of providing the search techniques and tactics required in the urban disaster environment. The requirements and criteria for the position are identified in the following categories:
•    Knowledge
•    Skills
•    Abilities

The Canine Handler must have:
1.    Knowledge of the capabilities and operations of the canine search component;
2.    A practical knowledge of search strategy and tactics;
3.    A practical knowledge of the theory and types of building construction and collapse;
4.    Successful completion of the Structural Collapse Technician course is desirable but not required;
5.    Be familiar with the principles of building construction, to include how buildings may react in a collapsed situation;
6.    Have an awareness of the hazards associated with the various disaster search environments;
7.    Be familiar with the structural features and conditions that contribute to a high probability of victim survival in a collapsed structure or other disaster environments;
8.    Successful completion of the Canine Search Specialist course; and
9.    Practical knowledge of canine first aid.

The Canine Handler must:
1.    Be proficient in applying search tactics, strategy, and procedures at collapse sites;
2.    Be proficient in land navigation and site mapping;
3.    Have experience as a task dog handler/trainer;
4.    Have an understanding of canine search operations including team size, check and recheck procedures, and observer responsibilities;
5.    Be competent in canine search handling; and
6.    Completed Basic Rescue consisting of Confined Space (entrant), Basic Rope Rescue, and Trench awareness.

Skills Desired
1.    NFPA or equivalent training in any of the following courses: 
•    Confined Space Rescue 
•    Rope Rescue 
•    Swift Water Rescue 
•    Trench Rescue 
•    Fire Officer 
•    Safety Officer 
•    Critical Incident Stress 
•    Hazardous Material Training; 
2.    Structural Collapse training at a technician's level, equivalent to NFPA 1670; and
3.    Previous experience in the use of SCBA

The Canine Handler member must:
1.    Be able to support the search team with the canine resource;
2.    Be able to operate safely in adverse environments, including swift water;
3.    Be able to interpret canine behavior and report those results;
4.    Be able to assist in additional Task Force activities that may arise during a mission;
5.    Be able to account for, maintain and utilize issued equipment;
6.    Be able to assist the medical specialist in canine care;
7.    Be able to operate in all natural and manmade disaster environments; and
8.    Be able to deploy by ground or air (fixed or rotary wing).

A Canine Handler is responsible for carrying out the Search Manager's strategy for reconnaissance/search activities during incident operations and training. Canine Handlers report directly to the Search Manager. Canine Handlers are:
•    Responsible for searching collapsed structures, water, debris piles, land and mud slides, and fire areas as assigned—using appropriate search techniques and dog handler skills; 
•    Responsible for executing and implementing the incident reconnaissance and search plan; 
•    Responsible for marking and documenting locations of possible finds and, if possible, estimating the status of victims; 
•    Responsible for cooperating with and assisting other search and rescue resources; 
•    Accountable for all issued equipment and canine's health care needs; 
•    Responsible to provide situational reports and records; and
•    Responsible to perform additional tasks or duties as assigned.