Urban Search and Rescue dog Cara to retire from service 

Cherished Urban Search and Rescue dog, Cara, is to retire 7 years after starting service with us in 2016.

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Published on 2 August 2023

Cara, our Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) dog, is to retire after seven years with West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS).

Cara joined WMFS in 2016 and began her journey as a Technical Rescue USAR dog with her handler, Firefighter Mick Attwood, two years later.

Following six intensive months’ training, Cara passed her assessment with flying colours, which at the time was unprecedented in the USAR dog world.

Mick paid tribute to his four-pawed partner: “She was the first Belgian Malinois to be licensed for USAR operations in the UK. She has led the field for many years, in a job she was absolutely in her element doing.

“She was born to find people. She always went the extra mile and constantly amazed those who saw her work.

“Most of our early training days were about Cara teaching me! She’s a dream dog, the likes of which most handlers would never have the pleasure of working with. She was demanding and extremely intense, yet reliable beyond doubt.”

Cara has been deployed to many incidents, local and national, where she and Mick were able to make a positive impact in often tragic circumstances. They included gas explosions, building collapses, road traffic collisions and searches for missing people.

Cara has also been on UK and international exercises with UK International Search and Rescue (UK ISAR) team in Sicily and Kosovo.

She recently turned nine, and will continue to live with Mick in her retirement. It is hoped that her younger four-legged companion, Luna, will successfully complete her USAR training in the autumn.

Area Commander Alex Shapland, Head of Response for WMFS, said: “Whilst it’s sad to see Cara retiring from active duty, we absolutely recognise and celebrate her incredible work with Mick.

“She has been an invaluable asset for our service, National Resilience, and the UK International Search and Rescue Team. Let’s hope she has a long and happy retirement.

“I know that Mick and Luna will work equally hard for the communities of the West Midlands and beyond.”

Cara the USAR dog on deployment with her tongue out alongsideCara the USAR dog on deploymentCara the USAR dog on deploymentCara the USAR dog on deploymentCara the USAR dog on deploymentCara the USAR dog on deployment alongside a USAR staff member