Rescue dogs of the civil security

The rescue dogs teams of the Civil Security, commonly referred to as "canine brigades", are grouped together within Rescue Dog Belgium. These teams are made of rescue dog handlers from an emergency rescue zones or the Civil Protection, and their dog.


These teams carry out two types of missions throughout Belgium. To these two types of missions correspond two specialisations:


  • The "rescue dogs" are specialised in the search for and rescue of persons buried under rubble, as it may be the case, for example, after the collapse of a building, where victims may be trapped under rubble.
    In such circumstances, the fire brigade intervenes first. It is the fire brigade officer who leads the operations on site and, if the situation requires it, can call on the rescue dog teams of the Civil Security.
    These teams work together with the fire brigade and may be required to collaborate with the specialised USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) teams of the Civil Protection. 
  • The "search dogs" are specialised in the search for missing persons who may be in danger.  They systematically search for every person they could find in vast areas, without a track or reference smell. 
    For this kind of mission, Rescue Dog Belgium intervenes at the request of the police or judicial authorities.
    It is therefore these authorities who evaluate the circumstances of a person's disappearance, which can be varied, justify the intervention of search teams made up of a rescue dog handler/rescue dog pair. During these search operations, other actions or means may also be deployed, such as ground searches or drones equipped with a camera to visualise the search area.

Rescue Dog Belgium has over 20 rescue dog teams accredited by the FPS Home Affairs.  All the rescue dog handlers have a rescue dog handler certificate.  Some teams practice only one of the two specializations, others have successfully passed the examination for both specializations. The dog handlers practice on average once a week with their dog to maintain the skills of the dog handler/dog team.

Call up procedure

Only the emergency rescue zones, the Civil Protection and the police can request an intervention from the rescue dog teams of the Civil Security, by contacting the emergency call centres.   Usually, at least two rescue dog teams and one coordinator are called in.  They may ask for reinforcements once on site. 

Organisational structure

The dog handlers of the Directorate-General Civil Security are either part of an emergency rescue zone or of an operational unit of the Civil Protection.

Instructors for Rescue dogs teams

The Directorate-General for Civil Security currently has five instructors responsible for the continuous training of the accredited rescue dog teams.  The instructors have themselves been rescue dog handlers within Rescue Dog Belgium for at least two uninterrupted years and have been trained as instructors

Coordinators of the operation of the rescue dog teams

Four instructors are also coordinators of the rescue dog teams. They lead the teams on site and providing technical advice to the head of the emergency rescue operations at the site of the intervention. After each intervention, they draw up a detailed report which is annexed to the report drawn up by the head of operations.

Coordination by the Directorate-General Civil Security

The Directorate General for Civil Security is responsible for the general coordination of the rescue dog teams and is the guarantor of the implementation of the established legal framework.  The Technical Committee, made up of members of the emergency rescue zones and the Civil Protection, provides advices to the Civil Security.

In practice, the coordination of Rescue Dog Belgium is carried out by the Directorate Civil Protection of the DGCS, with the help of two volunteer specialists coordinating the rescue dog teams. 


More information on dog rescue teams can be found in :


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