K-9 Search & Rescue

Valued Members of the North Collier Fire Team

The North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District response team includes those of the four-legged variety as well. Under the direction of dog handler and retired North Collier Fire Firefighter/EMT Michelle Delaney, German Shepherds Rina, Acki and Maia are nationally certified in urban search and rescue. 

Working in conjunction with local law enforcement and other emergency service agencies, Rina, Acki and Maia assist in the location of missing persons in urban, suburban and wilderness environments. Using tracking and air scenting, these dogs are trained to find missing walkers, hikers and missing persons from senior facilities including those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Search and rescue teams also play a critical role during structural collapse incidents. The canines help search teams locate victims using their incredible sense of smell to detect live human scent, even a victim buried deep in rubble.

Dog Certification

For the handler, certification includes written and verbal tests regarding search-and-rescue strategies, briefing and debriefing skills and canine handling skills. For the canine, certification includes proper command control, agility skills, barking alert skills to notify rescuers of a find and the willingness to overcome innate fears of tunnels and unstable surfaces under the guidance of the handler. Each canine and handler must pass rigorous national certification tests in urban search and rescue, and must be re-certified by National Search and Rescue Association and FEMA every two years, as well as annually by the North American Police Work Dog Association.

Rina with nose to ground, hot on scent.

Rina and Michelle preparing for off-lead obedience routine training.

Acki hot on trail of missing child.

Acki at last known location of “missing girl”, taking it all in before his search off-lead.

Rina on a track, crossing over gravel road.

Acki finds “missing girl” with positive identification!

Maia preparing for helicopter operations and high-angle rope operations!.

Rina enjoying a back rub during a school demonstration for a “missing teacher.

Rina leading the class back after her “missing teacher” search.

Acki searching for victim in rubble.

Rins on scent trail.

Maia finding victim buried in rubble and alerting handler of find.

Rina cooling off after a long day of tracking.

Acki cooling off after a very long search.

Puppy Cheyene is nose to the ground practicing her tracking skills.

Cheyene on a reconnaissance mission for her trainer.

Michelle Delaney with Rina, Acki & Maia

Rina observing the task in front of her on the rubble pile.

Rina tackling pallets on rubble pile to find victim buried 5 feet under debris.

Acki on a three-hour certification track.

Acki on a wilderness search, locating victim up in tree.

Rina working secondary scent, finding Victim 2 (after finding scent of Victim 2 off of Victim 1).

Rina just acquiring scent.

Rina continuing to trace scent.

About Acki

Acki von Shelzsmide (Active)
Age: 10 Years
Born: United States

National Search and Rescue Association (NASAR)

  • Tracking
  • Area Search

North American Police Working Dog Association (NAPWDA)

  • Tracking
  • Trailing
  • Area Search
  • Building Search
  • Obedience

American Kennel Club (AKC)

  • Canine Good Citizen
  • Companion Dog
  • Tracking Dog

About Maia

Maia von Shelzsmide (Active)
Age: 5 Years
Born: United States

North American Police Working Dog Association (NAPWDA)

  • Tracking

About Cheyenne

Cheyenne von Shelzsmide
Age: 2 Years
Born: United States

In Training (NCFR)

Cheyenne is still in training. She will one day be certified in tracking as are her housemates Acki and Maia.

About Handler Michelle Delaney

Lieutenant Michelle Delaney (retired) has more than 26 years of experience as a Firefighter/EMT. Lt. Delaney’s credentials include numerous certifications and memberships including: Fire Officer II, Fire Investigator II, Fire Inspector II, Fire Instructor II, Technical Rescue Team, Hazardous Material Technician, SAR-Tech II, FEMA 100-200-700-800-809, K9 Search Specialist, K9 Down Emergency Procedures, Florida Association Arson Investigations, Evaluator for AKC Canine Good Citizen, Certified Pet Care Technician and Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

Member Of: Florida Association for Search and Rescue (FASAR), National Search and Research Association (NASAR), North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA), Greater Naples Dog Club, Central Florida Tracking Club, German Shepherd Dog Club of America-Working Dog and German Shepherd Rescue of SW Florida.

For additional information on the K-9 Search and Rescue Team, or to schedule a demonstration for your group, please contact Michelle Delaney at (239) 777-0853.