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Search Dogs

Matt Wroe – a Dorset Police Crime Scene Investigator based at Ferndown – and his springer spaniel puppy Bailey are the latest recruits to join voluntary organisation Dorset Search Dogs.

The not-for-profit organisation assists the emergency services across the county in searching for missing and vulnerable people.

The dogs specialise in ‘air scenting’. This means that instead of using the traditional method of following a scent trail, the Dorset Search Dogs sniff the air to find people in the immediate area.

Through this method of ‘air scenting’, up to 80 acres can be searched in less than two hours.

Matt Cooke – a police constable based at Boscombe – is the Chairman of Dorset Search Dogs. He points out that that the handlers treat searching as a game with the dogs, and so the clever canine searchers are never aware of how serious the situations can be.

He said: “The dogs think it’s just a big game. When they get a find and save someone’s life they have no idea what they have done.

“We helped to find a missing lady in Ferndown and all the dog wanted to do was play with her by throwing his squeaky toy towards her.”

Matt Wroe said: “Joining Dorset Search Dogs has given me the opportunity to build up a close relationship with my spaniel Bailey, through playing and training together.

“Hopefully this will benefit the community in the long term through the work we will carry out as part of the team.”

The organisation’s membership currently comprises five dog handlers, three operational supports and one non-operational support. There are currently two operational dogs, with three other dogs currently in training and awaiting assessment.

The organisation also has immediate access to another five Hampshire-based dogs and a network of further dog units situated around the UK.

Dorset Search Dogs rely on generous donations from the public to survive. If you would like to make a donation, or to find out more about the work that this lifesaving organisation does, then please visit their website at


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