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What does SAR mean?
SAR is the acronym for Search And Rescue. In SAR groups around the world you can have many specialized types of SAR teams ranging from missing humans, cadaver searches, drug tracking, lost pets and many more. At Sweet Whiskers we are cat experts and cat exclusive, so we are cat exclusive SAR team as well!
What areas does Sweet Whiskers actually cover with their SAR cases?
We try hard and keep our searches to a hyper localized, yet an aggressive approach. For that reason we limit our physical search locations to the city of Ames, Boone, and Nevada Iowa. On occasion we do have Ankeny and Des Moines cases come through and if volunteers are either already there, willing to travel or there is one locally to that search grid we can notify them of the missing cat case, but do not guarantee a search team will be deployed.
But, that doesn't mean we can't still help!
Technically we help anyone virtually with all of our online resources and share this readily for all to access. Additionally there is the option (full disclosure this is a paid option) to have a one on one consultation with our pet detective who specializes in lost cats. They can help give expert species specific advice on how best to approach the situation, setting up a search grid, and helping find and connect you to your most local resources.
It is our goal to eventually spread that kind of support through out the entire state of Iowa and beyond.
What does a SAR volunteer actually do?
SAR volunteers through Sweet Whiskers are a critical part of our recovery efforts. With the approach of hyper localized, aggressive searches we have an outstanding 89% live recovery rate. It is all thanks to our volunteers who are quick to act and quick to serve! Most of the time our volunteers are individuals (or even whole families) that come and do a physical slow methodical search of the 5 most closest houses/grounds around that of which a cat has gone missing.
Some of our differently abled bodied volunteers help by volunteering with coordination, social media posts, intake forms and simply good ol' fashion shelter searches. We all come together to do what we can, when we can!
What kind of time commitment is this?
This is a great question! We know time is a precious commodity these days. We value it for ourselves and our volunteers. There is no requirement for how much or how little you volunteer for. It's entirely up to you. That said we have 3 classes of searches that we call our volunteers for and this is how the time kind of breaks down and what volunteers can expect.
Urgent calls: This is usually a text blast announcement to our entire SAR volunteer list for the applicable area the search falls within. These are kind of drop what you are doing or get to a stopping place and then come help announcements. We know that not all volunteers can do this. Often we all end up arriving fairly close together so some minor coordination can occur. Otherwise it's all volunteers going at their own pace, for as long or as short as they desire. 15min to 4 hours. It's all you! We just ask that you report back your findings so that we don't double up our resources if a cat has actually already been found.
Active Search Case: Cats that are typically missing between 1-3 days. These are texted announcements with an organized date and time. This kind of call is actually our highest recovery rate search missions. It is a powerful well coordinated sweeping of a small area with many eyes!
Long Search Cases: This is for cats that have been reported missing more than 4 days and an organized search is being mounted. This notification is typically sent out via email with detailed information about the grid area being searched and hours to be volunteered for.
All organized searches:
We typically ask for 1-2 hours of search time. This allows us some time to gather, hand out supplies, communicate about search grid and divide up into teams. Actual search time is only about an 45min to an 1.5 hours. If you can not stay the full time we simply ask that you hand in your provided gear to someone in charge before leaving.
We may find the cat early on and it could be less time. However, we do strictly cut off all search efforts at the 2 hour mark. We strongly believe your time is valuable and want to respect that.
I'm not able to physically able to help with SAR searches, is there another way I can help?
Sweet Whiskers as a company, is a pretty strong advocator for disability rights and participating in the best way you know how! There is never any pressure to participate more or less on others. We just really love helping cat owners retrieve their best feline friends!
If having lots of mobility is an issue for you, consider passing out drinks during searches. Especially those warm drinks in the nasty temperature months. Or maybe your're on our call list. This is a specific group of volunteers that helps reach out digitally to all of our local and surrounding shelters with images and cat information, if digital approaches can't be managed, physically calling ask talking to staff there is the next steps for this crew! This helps us to find if the cat has been lost and turned in by someone who has found the cat in the most immediate area.
Mailer team! On any of our long case searches it's coordinated well in advance. We always hope the cat will be returned by then but some cats truly are that hard to catch. In an effort to disclose to the community our need to pass onto their property we do send out mail that lets our customers know they are in an active search grid. Someone's got to lick all those envelopes! 😆
I'm not exactly local to Ames, can I still help?
Yes, aside from our obvious need to just share/spread the awareness... we also have an entire registry dedicated to receiving donations. There is so much involved in supplying searches, especially as you get to the colder seasoned months. Check out any of our needs listed below:
How to become a S.A.R. volunteer (search and rescue), what's next?
We love that you are ready to make the jump and want to be a part of our team! The tow most immediate steps are to join our facebook group to get regular updates. And two, to register as a SAR volunteer directly with Sweet Whiskers so that we can make sure that you are notified each time.
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