Unit of competency details

PUASAR018A - Select and maintain canines to be part of a canine search team for USAR incidents (Release 2)


Usage recommendation:
Is superseded by and equivalent to PUASAR018 - Select and maintain canines to be part of a canine search team for USAR incidents 15/Jul/2019

ReleaseRelease date
2 (this release) 17/Aug/2012
(View details for release 1) 09/Feb/2011


SchemeCodeClassification value
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 099905 Security Services  

Classification history

SchemeCodeClassification valueStart dateEnd date
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 099905 Security Services  03/Dec/2012 
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Modification History


TP Version 



PUA12 V1

Layout adjusted.


PUA00 V8.1

First release in TGA.

Unit Descriptor

This unit covers the competency required to select canines to be part of a canine search team for urban search and rescue (USAR) incidents, to maintain the health and welfare of canines, to provide daily care to canines and to plan search and rescue training for search canines.

No licensing, legislative, regulatory or certification requirements apply to this unit at the time of publication.

Application of the Unit

This unit applies to canine search specialists responsible for developing a canine search team for USAR incidents.

A canine search team consists of one disaster search canine and one canine search specialist.

Licensing/Regulatory Information

Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Employability Skills Information

This unit contains employability skills.

Elements and Performance Criteria Pre-Content

Elements describe the essential outcomes of a Unit of Competency.

Performance Criteria describe the required performance needed to demonstrate achievement of the element. Where bold italicised  text is used, further information is detailed in the Range Statement. Assessment of performance is to be consistent with the Evidence Guide.

Elements and Performance Criteria



1. Assess canines for USAR work 

1.1 Criteria  for canines to work in a USAR environment are determined.

1.2 Canines are observed and assessed in relation to determined criteria.

1.3 Canines assessed as meeting determined criteria are selected to be part of canine search team.

2. Maintain search canine health 

2.1 Basic symptoms of ill health  or injury in search canines are identified.

2.2 Local authorities  who can be consulted about the establishment or maintenance of search canine health are identified.

2.3 Program of health maintenance  to prevent common illnesses or parasites is implemented.

2.4 Treatment program  for ill or injured search canine is followed as required.

2.5 Basic first aid for ill or injured search canines is administered.

2.6 Basic first aid kit suitable for treating injured search canines is maintained.

3. Manage search canine hygiene and welfare 

3.1 Living environment, training areas and search canine transportation are maintained according to animal health and welfare requirements, standards and regulations.

3.2 Health, welfare and fitness of search canines is maintained for USAR operational and environmental conditions.

3.3 Healthy diet is maintained for search canines based upon individual animal's requirements.

3.4 Need to retire a search canine is assessed and recommended in accordance with specialist advice  and/or animal health and welfare standards.

4. Maintain records of search canine health and welfare 

4.1 Vaccination and other preventative health records  for search canine are established and maintained accordance with the Australian Urban Search&Rescue Canine Capability Best Practice Guideline.

4.2 Health, treatment and injury records for search canines are established and maintained.

4.3 Decisions to retire search canines are recorded.

4.4 Organisational policies and procedures  for recording and reporting incidents that result in injuries to search canines are followed.

5. Develop and implement a training plan 

5.1 Training needs  of canine search team are identified and assessed.

5.2 Training plan  that addresses the needs, strengths, weakness of the canine search team is developed.

5.3 Training plan is reviewed and amended as necessary to reflect the changing needs of canine search team.

5.4 Training equipment is maintained.

5.5 Progress of canine search team is recorded and reported on.

Required Skills and Knowledge

This describes the essential skills and knowledge and their level, required for this unit.

Required Skills 

  • administer preventative or curative medicines and treatments to canines
  • apply basic first aid techniques to canines
  • collect, analyse and organise information to produce records and reports required by the organisation and animal welfare authorities
  • interpret the actions and indications given by a canine
  • maintain living environment, training areas and canines to the required standard of hygiene
  • monitor diet and exercise regimes to maintain the health and welfare of canines
  • recognise basic symptoms of ill health and injury in canines
  • solve problems to deal with safety risks
  • work independently and in teams to manage the hygiene and welfare of canines

Required Knowledge 

  • anatomy and signs of health/ill health and injury of canines
  • animal health and welfare requirements and regulations affecting working canines
  • Australian Urban Search&Rescue Canine Capability Best Practice Guideline
  • basic first aid techniques that can be used to treat injured canines
  • canine anatomy
  • canine developmental stages
  • canine grooming requirements
  • capabilities of canines working within a USAR environment
  • common illnesses, diseases, parasites and other causes of ill-health or injury affecting working canines
  • dietary and exercise requirements of working canines
  • location of veterinarians and other authorities who can assist in the maintenance of the health and welfare of canines
  • organisational policies and procedures regarding the health and welfare of canines within the organisation where applicable
  • physiology of canines
  • preventative measures for controlling illnesses and parasites that can affect canines
  • procedures for acquiring canines
  • psychology and behaviour of canines
  • records and reports required by state, territory and local authorities, the organisation and animal welfare authorities
  • restricted canine breeds
  • typical characteristics and temperaments of various breeds of canines that are suited to working within the USAR environment
  • work environment in which canines could be deployed and emergencies that could arise within those environments

Evidence Guide

The evidence guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the Performance Criteria, Required Skills and Knowledge, the Range Statement and the Assessment Guidelines for this Training Package.

Critical aspects for assessment and evidence required to demonstrate competency in this unit 

Assessment must confirm the ability to:

  • constantly observe and monitor search canines in relation to their continued ability to work in a USAR environment
  • provide recommendations on the health and welfare of search canines deployed in USAR incidents

Consistency in performance 

Competency should be demonstrated over time under a range of conditions that would be expected in the workplace.

Context of and specific resources for assessment 

Context of assessment 

Competency should be assessed in the workplace and/or in a simulated workplace environment.

Specific resources for assessment 

Access is required to:

  • Australian Urban Search&Rescue Canine Capability Best Practice Guideline
  • canines training to work in a USAR environment
  • search canines
  • legislation, policy, procedures and guidelines relating to the health and welfare of canines

Method of assessment 

In a public safety environment assessment is usually conducted via direct observation in a training environment or in the workplace via subject matter supervision and/or mentoring, which is typically recorded in a competency workbook.

Assessment is completed using appropriately qualified assessors who select the most appropriate method of assessment according to the workplace environment.

Assessment may occur in an operational environment or in an industry-approved simulated work environment. Forms of assessment that are typically used include:

  • direct observation
  • interviewing the candidate
  • journals and workplace documentation
  • third party reports from supervisors
  • written or oral questions

Range Statement

The Range Statement relates to the Unit of Competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Bold italicised  wording in the Performance Criteria is detailed below.

Criteria  must include:

  • desired characteristics
  • desired habits
  • desired physical attributes
  • individual traits

Desired characteristics  should include:

  • adapting readily to new situations, canine search specialists and environment
  • being alert and positively watchful of surroundings
  • being bold and willing to accept new challenges with confidence
  • being responsive to petting and praise from strangers in a non-aggressive manner
  • being sociable
  • demonstrating an even temperament
  • exhibiting high levels of inquisitiveness
  • having a high level of self-confidence
  • having strong prey or play drive
  • possessing high intelligence
  • responding to other canines in a non-aggressive manner
  • showing a strong desire to explore the environment and odours

Desired physical attributes  should include:

  • bright, clear eyes with pink surrounding membranes
  • body suitably structured to work in a USAR environment
  • clear of any parasitic infestations that cannot be treated
  • ears that are clean and without foul odour or discharge
  • feet that have all toes, solid whole pads and no overlong claws
  • healthy, shiny coat with no bare patches etc.
  • limbs/hips without signs of arthritis or dysplasia in the joints
  • mouth containing pink gums, complete set of white teeth and no foul odour
  • producing stools that are firm and moist, not sloppy
  • wet nose without discolouration, scales or discharge

Basic symptoms of ill health  may include:

  • aggression
  • dry nose
  • dull eyes
  • excessive barking
  • excessive drinking
  • excessive drooling
  • frothing at mouth
  • kennel cough
  • lameness
  • lethargy
  • signs of pain
  • stress/anxiety/depression

Local authorities  may include:

  • animal welfare associations
  • local government authorities
  • local veterinarians
  • Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)

Program of health maintenance  must include:

  • Daily health checks including:
  • general demeanour
  • main body parts
  • maintaining hygienic environment
  • nose, eyes, ears, mouth, teeth, skin/coat, genitals/orifices, mucous membranes, feet/limbs/nails
  • obvious injury
  • passing of urine/faeces
  • posture and gait
  • presence of fleas or ticks
  • specific individual canine requirements
  • state of body coat and body condition
  • annual veterinary checks

Treatment program  can vary according to:

  • cause of the symptoms, illness or injury
  • dosage matched to weight of canine
  • methods to be administered (e.g. in food, pill popper, applied to back of neck, injections, canine chew etc.)
  • physical form of the treatment to be administered (e.g. tablet, liquids, wash, decontamination etc.)
  • symptoms exhibited by the canine

Specialist advice  may include:

  • canine trainers
  • jurisdictional canine focal points
  • veterinarians

Health records  must include:

  • incident responses
  • organisational and state/territory or local authority, animal welfare legislative requirements
  • treatment programs for preventative or curative health regimes
  • vaccinations

Organisational policies and procedures  may include:

  • Australian Urban Search & Rescue Canine Capability Best Practice Guideline
  • enabling legislation
  • national and regional policies and procedures
  • organisational policies and procedures, particularly those relating to the health and welfare of canines within the organisation
  • organisation's approach to environmental management and sustainability
  • procedural guides, standard operating procedures, work instructions
  • workplace health and safety acts, regulations and guidelines

Training needs  may include:

  • ability of canine search specialist to identify and respond to indicators
  • access to situations where search canine can be deployed for USAR work
  • age of canine
  • behavioural drives influencing the canine
  • degree of bonding between canine and canine search specialist
  • characteristics exhibited by the canine
  • experience, commitment and knowledge of canine search specialist
  • frequency of training
  • health and welfare status of canine
  • length of time required by canine to acquire new skills
  • level of canine enthusiasm for detecting live human scent
  • level of training/experience
  • temperament of canine

Training plan  must include:

  • consideration of environmental factors
  • planned set of exercises to:
  • develop and enhance canine response and control capabilities
  • maintain health and safety during work
  • maintain canine motivation
  • outline of the strategies and timeline for the progressive development of the canine search team

Unit Sector(s)

Not applicable.