The BRH – history and development

In 1954 ...

... the Federal Air Protection Association was commissioned by the German Federal Minister of the Interior to train search and rescue dogs for debris searching, because their high potential was recognised at the end of the Second World War. In the 1960s, this training was continued by the German Association for Self-Protection.

In the meantime, electronic locating devices were developed. The federal authorities preferred them and officially ceased rescue dog training in 1973 – also for financial reasons.

Some dog handlers, however, had very good experience with the "biological locating" of buried persons and organised themselves into private associations. In 1976, the "Verband für das Rettungshundewesen Baden-Württemberg e.V.” (Baden-Württemberg Association for the Search and Rescue Dog Discipline) was launched. As a result, search and rescue dog teams were also established in other states, and the state association therefore changed its Articles of Association accordingly and became the "German Association for the Search and Rescue Dog Discipline”.

From the early 1980s, the dogs were also trained to search for missing people in vast forest areas, known as area searching.

The “Bundesverband Rettungshunde e.V.” (German Search and Rescue Dogs Association), as the BRH is now officially known, continued to develop steadily over the years. The white spots on the map of Germany, which were not being looked after by a BRH rescue dog team, declined rapidly.

The BRH was given a face in public at the turn of the millennium. Through debris operations after earthquakes in Turkey, Taiwan and India, and especially in Bam/Iran at Christmas in 2003, the number of alerts increased annually. While in 2000 234 missions were completed nationwide by BRH search and rescue dog teams, this number reached over 900 in 2019.

The fact that more than 60 people were found by BRH search and rescue dog teams in 2019 clearly speaks for the quality of biological locating. The technical variant is usefully complemented by the excellent performance that a well-trained rescue dog renders with its nose and opportunities to use probes, microphones and cameras, which may be limited, can be very effectively compensated.

The BRH is not just the oldest, but also the largest search and rescue dog organisation in Germany. 94 squadrons belong to the Association in the whole federal territory, with approximately 2,000 members. More than 700 dogs have passed a valid search and rescue dog test.

It is not only in this country, however, that people can rely on BRH squadrons in an emergency, as the concept of foreign missions of the Association is constantly evolving. The A-squad is trained in accordance with relevant UN guidelines and is equipped with technical and medical equipment.

More than 150,000 people in Germany support and promote the BRH, and thereby the local squadrons, in their volunteer work with a common goal:

Dogs rescuing people.