Search and Rescue Canine Team Trains at Seashore Trolley Museum

Group volunteers who do not have a dog involved with FEMA’s Mass Task Force Search and Rescue program take turns hiding in fully concealed locations on the Seashore Trolley Museum campus to help the dogs active search and rescue teams to practice finding living victims. Courtesy picture

KENNEBUNKPORT — A group of volunteers so dedicated to their mission they didn’t even bother to come up with a group name for themselves trained at the Seashore Trolley Museum this winter. The group of volunteers and their dogs are all current or former members of the Massachusetts Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Canine Search and Rescue Team.

Nellie, a dog involved with FEMA’s mass task force team, successfully completes a training exercise at the Seashore Trolley Museum. The museum’s cable car in Dunedin, New Zealand, and materials brought in to conceal the volunteers’ hideout are used in this live search, conducted inside a large trolley garage. Courtesy picture

Rain, snow, sub-freezing temperatures and mud season didn’t stop this group from training at the world’s first and largest electric railroad museum during their off-season. This group of dog owners teach their canines to search for living victims and corpses in buildings, light ruble building disasters, and large areas like the New England wilderness. Cart shelters, transit artifacts, large fields, and the 350-acre campus in general were used as research sites for this training.

The volunteers involved in this group reside in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut. All of them have been involved in this group for more than 10 years; some members have been involved for over 30 years. If group members do not train their own dogs, they help set up search areas and hide in “live” searches of other dogs owned by other group members. Four dogs in the group are cadaver search dogs; the rest of the dogs train for live finds.

Volunteers from four New England states trained their dogs at the Seashore Trolley Museum during the museum’s off-season to perform search and rescue during light-duty ruble construction disasters and large outdoor spaces. Courtesy picture

The FEMA Mass Task Force Search and Rescue Canine Team is deployed regularly. It is important that the dogs’ skills remain sharp between deployments and that group members train their young dogs to do this work when they are older.


Located at 195 Log Cabin Road in Kennebunkport, the Seashore Trolley Museum will open for its 83rd season on Sunday, May 1, 2022. For more information about the Seashore Trolley Museum, visit