High Level Of Performance And Endurance

“Until All Come Home”

The PRSAR Newsletter!

Some Updates on the great volunteers at PRSAR


Meet Apollo!

Apollo was adopted in July 2014 at just 9 weeks old. Apollo’s handler, Debbie, was driving home to Florida from Indiana after the passing of her 98-year-old grandfather when she received a picture of a cute 8-week-old red Doberman with a crooked tail that needed a home. Apollo was just what Debbie needed. Already having a female Doberman puppy at home named Athena, it didn’t take long for Debbie to choose Apollo’s name, the Greek God of the Sun.

Apollo came from Dobie Ranch Rescue (DRR) based out of Crystal River, FL. Apollo was turned over to Dobie Ranch Rescue from a reputable breeder. Apollo was born with a crooked “pig” tail. The breeder wanted to make sure that he found the perfect home and turned to Diane with DRR knowing she would make it happen. Diane chose Debbie and her family.

Debbie was already involved with PRSAR with her then 13-year-old daughter, Oakley, and K9 Athena, so it was only fitting that Apollo starts his search and rescue training right away at just 12 weeks old. He picked up on tracking very quickly and by the end of 2014, he started his HRD training as well. He is certified in live find and HRD – land and water. In the last 8 years, Apollo has traveled throughout the United States and has multiple confirmed finds. He flew on his first commercial airplane in October 2022 and received many compliments and spoiling from the TSA, the airline crew as well as other passengers. Apollo was recently named as one of the first five K9s to PRSAR’s Legacy Project, acknowledging his hard work and devotion to his job.

When not working, Apollo loves to play with his K9 sisters, Athena and Artemis, who are also both Dobermans. He is quite the snuggler and a typical “Velcro dog” that Dobermans are known to be. He loves to lie in the home office and watch Debbie work. He becomes very vocal when he feels she has worked enough and he needs some attention. At 103 pounds, Apollo is a “bull in a China shop” forgetting that he is not a little dog. He is a big goofball and will do just about anything that Debbie asks of him. He also thinks he is a lap dog. His favorite pastime is hiking in the mountains of Northern GA. His favorite snacks are all fresh fruits and vegetables but apples and oranges top his list.

Apollo loves his job and wants to thank everyone who has followed his SAR journey and those who have supported PRSAR over the years! Without you, Apollo would be a couch potato.

Debbie Maki

SAR Specialist/K9 Handler

PRSAR Board of Directors/Treasurer

Help Us When Using PayPal!

Recently PRSAR got approved as a preferred charity on PayPal! This enables us to be listed on the PayPal app and available to be set as a favorite charity to receive Micro-donations when you make purchases at checkout. How does this work? There are two ways to set PRSAR as your favorite charity. You can find us on the PayPal Giving Fund website and click the heart icon on our page, or you can use the PayPal app on your phone, With the phone app, go to payments, then to Give and set PRSAR as your favorite charity. When you checkout using PayPal you will get the chance to add $1 to your purchase and that money comes to us! This is a simple and great way to support your favorite Nonprofit! Thank you for your giving!


Cruel or Cool?

There is always controversy over dog training. How to do it, what to do, and when. But one of the ongoing debates over the years has been whether a dog should be crate trained. Opponents say it is akin to putting a dog in jail, cruel and restrictive. On the other hand, professional trainers strongly advocate crate training beginning with the puppy.

So, what is crate training, and why is it important? A crate, in simplest terms, is a manner of containing the dog. Think of it as a crib or a playpen for a toddler. Crates come in all sizes, colors, and types and range in price from $30 to $1000s. A crate should be of adequate size so your dog can lie down comfortably, turn around and sit. In addition, the door should be secure enough to contain your dog. Although for some, that is a simple latch, for the more creative escapees, it is a three-latch locking system.

Crate training a dog involves making sure that the dog is calm, secure, and comfortable being in the crate when you require it. This means the dog doesn’t try to claw his way out, eat the bars, or have a temper tantrum when placed in the crate. Like any other skill you teach your dog, it takes time to have a crate-trained dog.

So why crate-train your dog? There is a multitude of reasons, many of them related to safety.


There is no safer way to transport your dog than in a crate. A loose dog in a car can create a distraction or cause an accident. Dogs have fallen out of open windows and the back of trucks with catastrophic results. Seatbelts for dogs are a potential solution, but car seats are not designed to accommodate dogs, and while a seatbelt restrains the dog, it does nothing to protect the dog in an accident or rollover. Imagine you are in an accident on the highway, and your dog is loose in the car. You are knocked unconscious. Your dog is fine, but the windows are busted out. Your dog is scared and nervous and exits the vehicle onto the highway or bolts. In the confusion of caring for you, EMS will not be caring for your dog or searching for it. Crates provide essential safety and containment in a vehicle.


You drop your dog off for teeth cleaning or nail trim at the vet. Where do you think the dog goes? I guarantee you the vet techs are not in the back giving your dog smoochies. Instead, the dog goes into a holding area and, yes, into a crate to wait its turn. By crate training your dog beforehand, the dog will not see this as a traumatic event. It will just be another day at the office while Fluffy waits to get pretty. You hear about dogs that hate going to the vet all the time. I wonder how many of these relate the vet to the trauma of being in a crate because their owner did not have the foresight to acclimate them to one prior to the vet visit. And, if your dog ever has a major injury or surgery, a crate will be essential to allow them a safe, clean space to heal.


Disasters (house fires, tornados, hurricanes, or floods) can strike at any time. You may be forced to shelter somewhere other than a dog-friendly hotel. News flash! Shelters do not accept uncrated dogs. If you cannot safely put your dog in a crate at a shelter, your dog is not welcome. Many people were turned away from shelters during Hurricane Ian because of this. Think this will never happen? I hope you are right, but how tragic would it be to leave your dog behind just because you did not make the effort to crate-train the dog ahead of time?


A crate helps your dog learn appropriate behaviors. Starting from a puppy, a crate makes housebreaking a puppy easy. An energetic dog needs to learn self-soothing or calming. A crate gives the dog a cozy den-like space to do that. Additionally, a crate protects your dog from household hazards. Let's face it; your dog cannot be with you 24 hours a day. Life happens. You must go to the grocery store, dentist, or work, and your dog cannot go. Dogs left unattended and free roaming in a home can get into all types of trouble, from chewing your shoes to ingesting toilet bowl cleaner. A crate provides them with a safe environment from harm that may occur when you cannot watch them.

Finally, a crate can help control undesired behaviors. For example, the dog jumps on guests; put the dog in the crate when guests are present. The dog has food aggression issues; feed the dog in the crate. Dog obsesses about the landscapers mowing your lawn; allow the dog to relax in the crate until the mowers are done. These are just a few of the many behavioral concerns that can be addressed by effective crate training.


But it looks so cruel. It looks like my dog is in jail. They think they are being punished. All of these assumptions are false and brought on by humans that personify dogs. Dogs are inherently den creatures. They dig holes to lie in, then curl up in a ball in a corner to sleep. The only reason a dog would see a crate as punishment is if the human treats it like punishment. Crates should never be used to punish or mistreat a dog. They should always be used as a safe, quiet space for your dog. Place your dog in the crate like it is a party, with treats encouragement, and enthusiasm, and take them out of the crate in a calm neutral manner. They will see the crate as a nice place to be, and realize that coming out of the crate is just a normal part of their routine – not an escape from jail.

My vote is crates are cool, not cruel. What is your vote?

Julie Starbuck, Vice President

Director of K9 Operations

Peace River K9 Search and Rescue

All PRSAR K9s are required to be crate trained for their safety.


Volunteers Retiring!

This year we had to say goodbye to one of our dear volunteers. Michelle McCauley retired from PRSAR after 10 years of service. Michelle worked in many areas of SAR, traveled to other countries, and worked two K9s in her career with PRSAR. We wish her the best in the coming years--GO HAVE SOME FUN!

Can Thermal Cameras See through Trees, Water, and Walls?

Recently we had a massive search for a missing two-year-old boy and many news agencies were asking questions about the FLIR (Thermal) Cameras. Most reports were grossly inaccurate so we will try to set things in perspective here.

The short answer to the question in this article's title is NO! FLIR cannot see through walls, Tree canopies, or water! FLIR or Forward Looking Infra-red is really a sensor that doesn't see anything. It detects heat and assigns a color to that heat level. Heat signatures can be seen between the leaves of a tree canopy, but for many Helicopter pilots that is not a reality due to the cockpit workload. IR Energy reflects off the water so no image is possible. Many clues are missed by observers. Although FLIR cannot see through glass or water but can see through smoke making it a great tool for Firefighters. So what exactly are we looking at?

Defining Temperature Measurement

Measuring heat visually is the process of measuring electromagnetic radiation between microwaves and red visible light in the electromagnetic spectrum, having frequencies between 300 gigahertz and 400 terahertz and wavelengths between 1 millimeter and 750 nanometers

Temperature Measurement can be defined as a collection of techniques designed to measure electromagnetic radiation, including the spectrum of visible light. The terms “thermography” and “Temperature Measurement” are sometimes used interchangeably, since radiometric measurements are essentially reading the intensity of thermal radiation.

PRSAR UAVs/drones use Radiometric Thermal sensors. What are the advantages of Radiometric sensors?

A radiometric thermal camera measures the temperature of a surface by interpreting the intensity of an infrared signal reaching the camera. The human eye needs reflecting light from the sun to work its sensors, but not for the IR Sensor. It only needs a heat signature, which all things on Earth, animals, plants, and even Ice, has a signature.

The main advantage of using this type of imagery is it allows our recognition software to look down to the single-pixel level. We set the temperature range we are looking for and the computer does the rest. Look at this image below-

In the picture above, there is a human target under the tree canopy. An observer or a co-pilot watching an IR screen on a helicopter would easily miss this return, but not the computer.

With the correct settings, the computer can even distinguish between many different heat signatures to pick out the correct one. When the image is flagged and reviewed by an image tech at the command post, the geotag on the image gives us the location and field search teams are tasked to move and search that area.

So to answer the question again, NO, InfraRed cannot see through walls, water, or tree canopies, but there are ways to work around that and radiometric Imaging is one of those ways. A great tool in the search team's toolbox.

PRSAR maintains a UAV unit that specializes in this technology.

Visit our Website

Congratulations David and Sam!

We are so proud of our friend Deputy David Estes who won the 2022 Scent Horse of the Year Award from the AESA. Collier County Sheriff's Office is one of a very small group of agencies that have trained scent horses in their inventory. With David's success, we are sure there will be more!


One of the hold over beliefs from the early 2000s is that Cadaver K9 will falsely alert on Swamp Gas or better yet Mehtane. Many of these urban legends are the result of the early years of Human Remains Detection when little was really known about the nature of the odor picture the K9s were working and the science was not yet available for our understanding. Methane is the VOC that gets most of the blame. But is that really what is happening?

What is Volatility 

Volatility is directly associated with the vapor pressure of a substance. Vapor pressure is the pressure of the substance after transferring to the gaseous phase. Volatility is also closely associated with boiling point. A substance with a lower boiling point has higher volatility and vapor pressure.

The volatility of a substance is affected by the strength of intermolecular forces. For example, water is not readily volatile at room temperature and needs to be heated in order to evaporate. This is because of the hydrogen bonding between the molecules. As hydrogen bonds are much stronger, water has a higher boiling point and comparatively lesser volatility. In contrast, non-polar organic solvents such as hexane are readily volatile since they have weak Van Der Waals forces. Therefore, they also have low boiling points.

Molecular weight too plays a role in volatility. Substances with higher molecular weights do not vaporize easily whereas lower molecular weight compounds can be easily vaporized. 

What are Volatile Substances

Volatile substances are substances that have a higher capability to transfer into the vapor phase. They have much weaker intermolecular attractions, hence can be easily transformed into the vapor phase. They also have higher vapor pressures and lower boiling points. Most organic compounds are volatile. They can be easily separated using distillation or rotary evaporators by providing only a small amount of heat. Most of them evaporate at room temperature when exposed to air. This is because of weak intermolecular forces.

Let’s take acetone as an example. Acetone (CH3COCH3)  is a highly volatile compound that readily evaporates when exposed to air. When a little amount of acetone is poured into a watch glass and kept for some time, the acetone molecules at the topmost layer easily get released from other molecules and transform into the vapor phase. This exposes the next layer, and eventually, all the remaining acetone molecules transform into the vapor phase.

Most of the products we use on a daily basis contain volatile substances. Some examples include fossil fuels, paints, coatings, perfumes, aerosols, etc. These are somewhat harmful to health. Organic volatile compounds can remain in the atmosphere and enter our systems through inhalation. These compounds can cause harmful effects on chronic exposure. Furthermore, these cause harmful environmental conditions such as global warming and ozone layer depletion.

What are Non-Volatile Substances

Compounds that do not readily turn into vapor are called non-volatile compounds. This is mainly due to their stronger intermolecular forces. The common features of such compounds are lower vapor pressure and high boiling points. There are several non-volatile liquids. Water having a boiling point of 100 ̊C, is a fine example of a non-volatile liquid. As discussed earlier, this is due to the presence of strong hydrogen bonds between water molecules. Mercury is also a non-volatile liquid. Mercury is the only metal that is a liquid at room temperature. Since it contains metallic bonds, metal mercury ions embedded in a sea of electrons, cannot be easily evaporated and has a very high boiling point and a low vapor pressure.


Methane is a volatile organic compound, an odorless, colorless, and fast-moving gas. It will often act as a carrier for other gases as well! Some other soft tissue components break down like putrescine and cadaverine, but it is a common misconception that those are compounds of interest to the Cadaver K9 in Odor Mortis*. They are NOT volatile and have to be derivatized before they can become volatile which (in nature) is not easy to do. This is why in the study Odor Mortis, done by Arpad Vass, Ph.D., Cadaverine and Putrescine are NOT found in headspace samples. Why? Because they are NOT volatile.

In swamps, the smell of decomposing vegetation and human flesh is different regardless of how much methane is produced. Swamps make either tons of hydrogen sulfide or tons of methane (rarely both at the same time in massive amounts). The biggest simple gases from humans are hydrogen (very early in decomposition) then Carbon Dioxide (CO₂), then ammonia from the protein, and sulfur from cysteine and methionine (amino acids as the protein breaks down), but the sulfur ends up as disulfides, not much hydrogen sulfide. Methane gets blamed but is NOT the culprit.

Proofing Dogs Off Methane

There are training groups that will offer some sort of odor distraction/K9 proofing from swamp gas or Methane. This type of training is useless and may confuse the Cadaver K9 making them less effective in the field. The possibility of building an improper scent picture in the K9 will lead to incorrect alerts such as alerting on stools and dead animals. A well-trained cadaver K9 should only be trained on genuine sources that have a proper custody chain and usage schedule/record and are stored correctly to stop fumigation and cross-contamination issues. (We will be looking into proper storage in future newsletters). If a trainer insists they can do this training, have them show you the science and data to back up their claim. If they can't, walk away.

The Secret Service has a specific training method for new agents to spot counterfeit US Currency. They train the agents on every detail of the genuine currency so that when the counterfeit comes along, they spot it immediately. This same mindset needs to be in the scent dog community.

Know what you are hunting and enjoy greater success!


1. “Helmenstine, Anne Marie. “Here’s What Volatile Means in Chemistry.” About.com Education. N.p., 17 Feb. 2017. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

2. “Vapor Pressure.” Department of Chemistry. Purdue University, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

3. “Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).” Enviropedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

4. “Helmenstine, Anne Marie. “Understand What Nonvolatile Means in Chemistry.” About.com Education. N.p., 14 Oct. 2016. Web. 21 Feb. 2017."

*A.A.Vass, Odor Mortis, Forensic Science International 222 (2012) 234-241

The Cost of Search & Rescue

Who Pays?

The missing include all ages, all genders, and all races; all are victims. Many victims are murdered, abandoned, abused, and abducted. Add to this the investigative gaps where truths get missed, and evidence is lost. So why are missing person cases often misunderstood and completely underfunded, leaving families feeling abandoned and alone to grieve?

Organizations that want to investigate and support are being distracted by having to become fund-chasers, marketers, and online promoters.  Time is critical in missing person cases. Veteran semi-retired investigators and not-for-profit advocacies need to focus on the operational aspects of the task, not be bogged down on 'back of office' administration. Grant writers, sponsors, philanthropists, and governments must proactively support the enormous gaps in investigative search and advocacy support. But how is SAR really funded?

For the most part, Volunteer Search & Rescue is self-funded. That means the volunteer put their money into the training, certifications, schooling, equipment, and travel needed to be available for missions. It is an expensive hobby. As of this writing, NO Grants or other government monies are available for SAR Nonprofits and NGOs. The organizations must either pay their own way or ask their communities for financial help. Sometimes the families of the missing have GO FUND ME accounts, which can help offset the travel and food costs associated with the search mission.

In recent years inflation has driven the cost of everything up, from fuel to hotels and even the cost of outside training. As a result, classes that usually cost $500 now cost $2000-5000, making advanced training out of reach for small nonprofits. Added to this, insurance and AD&D costs have doubled. Many volunteers are now working two or three jobs just to exist, limiting their time for training and missions. Needless to say, times are challenging.

The one constant in all this is the heart of the volunteer. Volunteers will always make a difference! They are not motivated by paychecks or pensions. They do what they do because they care. Recently our area was devastated by Hurricane Ian. Many volunteers stayed to watch over our homes and be available to assist after the storm had passed. No one was ready for the 200+ MPH winds for 10 hours and 15 feet of storm surge that would hit this area. Once the storm passed, we realized this was NOT the same area anymore. All the "norms" were gone. Up was now down, and down was now up. There was no communication or electricity, transportation was impossible with 15 feet of brackish water in our streets, alligators and snakes were now patrolling, and dead animals were floating in the canals. This was not the same area anymore! Eventually, contact was made with emergency services, and we were coldly told, "you are on your own." Help was nowhere to be found. However, the volunteers were to be found. As the storm hit and the conditions became apparent, then dire, and then desperate, the volunteers stayed. Even when surrounded by unfathomable danger and destruction incomprehensible to anyone who was not there, they stayed. In a setting that was cruel, punishing, and unusual, they stayed and helped. When the conditions improved, they set out into their neighborhoods and brought care, training, and compassion. When so many were losing their sense of humanity, the volunteers never did. Their actions were humane and compassionate.

Eventually, the cavalry did arrive, and no one was happier to see them than I was. My neighborhood was blessed to have Virginia Task Force 1 (VA-TF1) working in our area. They really are the best of the best in the world at Disaster Rescue. I was happy to turn over my list of survivors and medical emergencies to them and return home to start repairing the damage.

This is the seventh disaster I have volunteered in, and I know it won't be the last. But the one thing that I have learned in all this is, the heart of the volunteer will always make a difference. They deserve your thanks and support!

Stay Strong!

Michael Hadsell


Peace River K9 Search and Rescue Association, Inc.

A Florida non profit corporation/501c3 State ID CH31988/ Fed ID #27-1584186




Certified Diver

FAA Pilot Comm/Single/ME Inst/Part 107

K9 Handler


" . . . Until All Come Home"

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