Meath Civil Defence – Launch of Search Dog “Phoenix” – October 2011

7 November 2011

Meath Civil Defence unveiled the newest addition to the organisations search management team in the form of PHOENIX, a golden retriever search dog. Phoenix has been in training with his handler, Kealan McMoreland, assistant unit leader in the Trim unit for the past eighteen months and was formally placed on active availability for search operations at an induction seminar for over sixty new volunteers registered with Meath Civil Defence on Sunday 23rd October.

The event was attended by the chairman of the national Civil Defence Board, Mr. Brian Spain, Meath County Council Director of Services for Environment and Emergency Services Mr. Brendan McGrath and Garda Inspector Martin Smethers, Navan Garda station.

Speaking at his first visit to Meath as chair of the Civil Defence Board, Mr. Spain praised the efforts of Civil Defence volunteers during the severe weather events of last year and welcomed the initiative of training a search dog for operational activities. Inspector Smethers said he looked forward to continued close working relationship with Civil Defence and said the search dog would be a tremendous asset to both Civil Defence and the Gardaí. 

Having spent the past eighteen months working with Phoenix, handler Kealan McMoreland said “training a search dog is the most rewarding type of dog training that there is for both dog and handler. A dog that has a purpose in life is a happy and contented dog”. 

Kealan said the training of Phoenix has been very much a community effort and paid tribute to fellow volunteers, neighbours children who played and petted Phoenix and helped to socialize him and land owners who facilitated him in the arduous training regime which must continue to keep the dog’s drive for search active. He also thanked Mick McCarthy of Irish Search Dogs who provided their expert tuition and training that has brought Phoenix from a family pet to being a search utility for Meath Civil Defence as well as Civil Defence Officer Michael Fitzsimons and search commander John Crosby for their support and his wife and children for their patience and understanding during long hours of absence.