138 Cordelia Camp Bldg
69 East University Way
Cullowhee, NC 28723
828.227.7397 tel
800.928.4968 toll-free tel
828.227.7115 fax


Cadaver Dog Instructors


Brad Dennis is the National Director of Search Operations for the KlaasKIDS Foundation and its Search Center for Missing and Trafficked Children. Brad has over 25 years of experience in search-and-rescue and crisis management, and has managed search efforts for over 200 missing/abducted children around the country. He managed the community-assisted search effort following the abduction of Polly Klaas -- which has become the model for child-abduction search strategies. Brad travels extensively throughout the United States, providing dynamic and relevant instruction concerning K-9 HRD operations, advocacy to families of missing children, child-abduction search management, and sex trafficking of minors; he also serves as "Master Lead Evaluator" for the National Association of Search and Rescue (NASAR). Brad is currently working his fourth HRD K-9. Brad's effort to locate missing and abducted children has led to the discovery of traffickers abducting and recruiting our children into the unsavory world of prostitution. Brad has been instrumental in the rescue of numerous children from sex trafficking, and the intelligence he has gathered has assisted in taking down several child-prostitution rings. His rescue efforts have been chronicled on CNN, "The Early Show," "The Today Show," "Dateline," MSNBC, and "48 Hours." Besides his duties as Search Director of KlaasKIDS Foundation, he participates on the U.S. State Department's Trafficking-in-Persons and Technology Working Group, the State of Florida Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force and the Florida Department of Children and Families Sex Trafficking Working Group. Brad is a retired Cryptologic Master Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy. He has been recognized and highly decorated for his intelligence analysis and counter-terrorism efforts.


Lisa Higgins started her service in SAR as a mounted officer with Pearl River Police Department as long ago as 1978. In 1979 learning from Master Chief (retired) Larry Sorenson how to handle a dog in obedience; It wasn't until November of 1989 when LaSAR dog team got it's start that she started to handle a dog in scent detection. Remaining in Law Enforcement as a mounted officer she retired from PRPD as a LT to join St. Tammany Sheriff's Office Special Operations Division working both mounted crowd control and canine SAR. In 2008 with thirty years in LE she retired her commission. Lisa now works full time with her dogs responding to over four hundred searches since starting her first dog in 1990 and currently working her third and fourth dogs. She continues to serve local, state and federal agencies, and is now a member of the Victim Recovery Team for the FBI.


Paul Martin has been active with search and rescue since 1997 and was a K-9 handler with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department from 2000-2007. Since 2000, Paul has specialized in human remains detection and has conducted searches or consulted on cases for national, state, and local agencies. Paul is currently working his third, fourth, and fifth canines certified in human remains detection. From 2003 to the present Paul has conducted research into the use of cadaver dogs as a tool to locate historic and pre-historic burials and has helped coordinate the Annual Human Remains Specialized K-9 Training Invitational. In 2012, Paul presented the results of this research entitled “Cadaver Dogs as a Tool for Archaeologist: Fact or Fiction?” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. In 2011, Paul also began exploring the use of partnering cadaver dogs with ground penetrating radar in mapping of historic cemeteries, and in 2012 presented “Dog Versus Machine: Exploring the Utility of Cadaver Dogs and Ground Penetrating Radar in Locating Human Burials at Historic Archaeological Sites” during the Southeastern Section meeting of the Geological Society of America. Paul graduated from Western Carolina University in 2011 with a B.S. in Anthropology with a concentration in Forensic Anthropology. While at WCU Paul’s primary research interest had been scavenging and scattering of infant and child sized remains, with the results “Taphonomy of Infant and Child-Sized Remains in Western North Carolina” having been presented at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Additionally, Paul has assisted in developing the study of the occurrence of scavenging within the FOREST, Western Carolina University’s outdoor human decomposition research facility. He has also assisted in the instruction of the Western Carolina University summer course “Field Recovery of Human Remains” under the direction of Dr. Cheryl Johnston. Currently, Paul serves as a Graduate Assistant in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Mississippi where he is pursuing a Masters in Anthropology. His research interest at the University of Mississippi includes human osteology, bioarchaeology, forensic anthropology, and the application of remote sensing technology to locate clandestine burials.

Orval Banks - Southern Pride Search Dogs
Many moons ago I was born in the top of a Presbyterian Church on Banks Creek in Yancey County N.C. where we lived. My mother taught school there as a missionary so I couldn’t be allbad. (LOL). My search experience started in the 1950’s. My search dog experience started in the 1980’s with the N.C. Search Dog Association. I formed Southern Pride Search Dogs in 1998 in which I’m still an active member. During this time I was or still a member of the following organizations.

  • NASDDN: North America Search Dog Network                                           5yrs
  • NOCDS: Network of Canine Detection Service                                          24yrs
  • NASAR: National Association for search and Rescue                              22yrs
  • NCSARAC: NC Search and Rescue Advisory Council                              20yrs
  • NCPDA: NC Police Dog Association                                                            22yrs
  • WNCARS: Western North Carolina Association of Rescue Squads     24yrs
  • NCFA:  NC Forensic Association                                                                  4yrs
  • CSAR: Canine Search and Recovery (Charter Board Member)              20yrs

I have trained and worked with 4 dogs.

  • Henry – Black Lab mix
  • Smoke – Black Lab
  • Tinker – German Shepherd
  • Buddy – Australian Shepherd (My current partner)

All four dogs were very successful with numerous live finds (mostly wilderness) and cadaver both land and water.
I have attended as a student and or an instructor in over 100 seminars in 16 states
And have had thousands of hours of class and instruction in all phases of S.A.R.
I was a NCEMT 16 yrs and a WMA Wilderness EMT for 12 yrs
I am a NASAR Sartech two and Sartech two evaluator for 20 yrs 
I have responded to well over 1300 searches in 9 states
In 2008 I received  the inaugural “Bill Talhurst” award from CSAR.

I have been involved with the Western Carolina University’s cadaver dog training program since it’s inception. I now reside at the NC Forest Service fire tower on Chambers Mtn. in Haywood County NC where I was a forest fire lookout for 12 yr’s until the state stopped manning it in 2011. It was the last maned tower in the state. The residence was given to the land owner so I could still live there for security and caretaker and because I wanted to stay. I’ve now been there for 16 yrs and love it over 4500’ elevation  with 360 degree view of the mountains. I won’t go into my other world activities you wouldn’t believe it anyhow (LOL}



Dr. Tamara Shearer is a 1986 graduate of the Ohio State University College of
Veterinary Medicine and received her certification as a Certified Canine
Rehabilitation Practitioner from the University of Tennessee in 2005.  She
is one of only 28 veterinarians to receive the title of Certified Veterinary
Pain Practitioner and is also a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist.

After practicing in Ohio for 22 years, Dr. Shearer has opened an integrative
practice in the mountains of Western North Carolina where she combines multiple
treatment principles ranging from conventional medicine and rehabilitation
techniques to Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine.  She focuses on
pain management, rehabilitation, acupuncture and palliative care.

Dr. Shearer was honored as 2003 Veterinarian of the Year by Hartz Mountain
Corporation, she was a recipient of the Ohio Animal Foundation's Award for
Community Service Award in 2004, and Boehringer Ingelheim's 2005 Award for
Meritorious Service in Small Animal Practice.  Her work in hospice care
for pets has been featured in the Washington Post and numerous other
publications including the AVMA Journal.

Dr. Shearer has authored 4 books on health care for pet owner including 3 first
aid books for pets. Her veterinary publications include, High-Tech Pain
Management- Low Level Laser Therapy and was the first veterinary handbook on
therapy lasers to be published in the USA in 2004.   She contributed
a chapter to Dr. Gaynor's, Handbook of Veterinary Pain Management on hospice
care.  She was the guest editor and contributed chapters of the 2011
edition, Veterinary Clinics of North America on hospice and palliative care.

She has lectured on rehabilitation, hospice care and laser therapy at various
veterinary conferences including the Western States Conference, North American
Veterinary Conference, Southeast Veterinary Conference, the Midwest Veterinary
Conference, the Central Veterinary Conference, and the Southern Veterinary

Dr. Shearer is a long time member of the International Veterinary Academy of
Pain Management.   She was the 2009-2010 President of American
Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians and is also a member of the Society
for Veterinary Medical Ethics.



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