Annual Report 2015


The BRH Bundesverband Rettungshunde e.V. (German Search and Rescue Dog Association) has been the umbrella organisation for (currently 81) rescue dog teams in Germany since 1976. They are organised regionally as independently registered associations and function on a volunteer, non-profit basis. In some federal states, our teams are specialised services in the respective state’s disaster control. Continued interest is being shown by other teams from home and abroad who want to join the association.

The BRH had 2,323 members (1,789 active and 534 passive members) at the end of 2015; 1,634 dogs (722 trained dogs and 915 dogs in training). Its number of active members and trained rescue dogs makes the BRH the largest rescue dog organisation in the world. Crossbreeds make up the largest share of the dogs at 25%, followed by Labrador retrievers at 16% and Australian Shepherds at 10%. A total of least 40 breeds are represented in BRH.

Last year, the teams were alerted 787 times in Germany to participate in searches for missing or buried citizens. These alarms resulted in 583 searches, in which 43 people were found by the dogs and thus protected from suffering further health effects.

The active members were involved in more than 680,000 hours of rescue dog work in 2015, corresponding to around 380 hours per active member. The area of training makes up the largest share at 65%. Under the motto “Dogs save people”, the volunteer teams are ready to help citizens in need 24 hours a day / 7 days a week / 365 days a year. It should be noted that all searches are free for the alarming authorities and organizations as well as the persons being searched for.

Approximately 60 training events were held for the training of dogs, dog handlers and search personnel (search leaders, search assistants, group leaders and search helpers). Our training centre in Hünxe (NRW) is our base for the training activities. More than 1,250 members attended the nationwide training events. There are also practical exercises at state level and exercises for foreign search missions. The BRH attaches great importance to the training of dogs and people and confirms its objective to use only highly qualified and trained teams for search missions.

From a national perspective, the active participation of the members in the numerous training events proves the importance of investing in a central and professionally equipped Hünxe training centre. Another training centre is located on an industrial site in Malchin (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania). In 2015, closed down military barracks in Mosbach were rented to provide additional training grounds specifically for rubble search missions. In 2016, we will extend the grounds accordingly and continue to develop it as a “disaster school”. We will also make the facility available to state and private organisations for training in addition to the BRH training and education centre. All BRH training institutions will in future operate under the name “Training Center Retten und Helfen” (Rescue and Help Training Centre).

Extensive repairs and improvements were also required and carried out at the Hünxe training centre in 2015. Additional bed capacity was created in the gym, the former bar was converted into an office complex and the sanitary facilities in the ward building were renovated and remodelled. The telephone system and the PC situation were overhauled; the heating system was fitted with energy-saving measures and much more. Last year 34 teams did more than 4,770 hours of work in Hünxe and Malchin.

To maintain and demonstrate their operational capability, the dogs and their handlers must undergo practical tests annually. In 2015, a total of 1,420 tests were performed by independent performance judges. Furthermore, theoretical education and training events were conducted at the regional as well as the federal level.

Foreign search missions have a long tradition at the BRH and can be classified as follows

  1. Foreign search missions in Europe as part
    - of help in countries bordering German states,
    - of bilateral agreements or deployments on behalf of German Disaster Assistance.

    These are normally carried out by the search forces of the local, regional or national BRH rescue dog teams.
  2. International search missions under a UN mandate in the event of large-scale emergencies are carried out by members of the BRH foreign squad under the umbrella of the I.S.A.R. Germany Stiftung GmbH (I.S.A.R.).

    The I.S.A.R., an association of rescue specialists from different fire departments and aid agencies across the Federal Republic of Germany, is a medium team accredited with the UN sub-organisation OCHA and classified according to INSARAG guidelines.

To meet the requirements of the UN INSARAG (International Search & Rescue Advisory Group) and exclusively employ well-equipped and professional teams in the event of foreign disasters, particularly qualified BRH members were combined into a foreign squad team (A squad).

These search forces have to operate fully autonomously abroad and be trained for search, salvage and medical methods under rubble. Equally indispensable is proven competence in the fields of logistics, management and medicine. This special team currently has more than 70 members. About 12 tons of deployment material enables the work to be carried out on site. All this has been achieved in the last few years with considerable financial and educational expenditures. All team members went through a special training course lasting several months. The INSA RAG certification was done using an IEC test from INSA RAG. I.S.A.R. Germany and the integrated BRH search mission forces thus constitute the second team from Germany for international missions under a UN mandate, alongside the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW).

Missions were carried out in Nepal and the Philippines in 2015

Thanks to the existing resources and qualified members for dealing with major damage situations, “humanitarian aid” was added to the charter in the spring of 2013. The objective is to care for people who need medical help following disasters. Preparations have been initiated at high speed since then. The necessary logistical resources have been acquired and the team members have been provided with training. The effectiveness of this measure was confirmed by our mission in the Balkans and Nepal. Many people there were successfully provided with medical care and supplies.

Our association receives no public funding for its work. It thus has to rely on the generosity of its donors in order to achieve its high goals.


BRH Presidium


Helmut Haller                  Jürgen Schart                    Reinhard Kappen

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