CARCA is the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Cat Association.
We are a small group of volunteers dedicated to the training and use of domestic cats in emergency avalanche rescue procedures.
We feel that with proper training, cats can be just as effective – and in some cases, more effective – than dogs, and certainly more effective than traditional probe line techniques.
Please visit again soon as we add more information about this revolutionary avalanche rescue development.
In 2005 Steve moved to a Fernie and became a ski patroller, eventually becoming involved with avalanche forecasting and search and rescue. It was in this role that he became increasingly frustrated by the difficulties faced by both the traditional techniques. The avalanche beacon by far offered a skier the greatest chance to be rescued, but that would only work for those who were smart enough to wear one. Probe lines were slow and required a large number of people to offer even a slim chance of finding a buried victim. Canine searches had proven to be able to find a person quickly enough, but dogs take many years to train and are costly and problematic to maintain in sufficient quantities to be truly effective. Driven by his own avalanche experience and love of cats, Steve worked for several years to convince other patrollers that an avalanche rescue cat program may be possible. By 2008, words finally became action as Steve had convinced a small group of visionary ski patrollers begin the first CARCA training session. The initial euphoria was short-lived however, as after months of frustration, ridicule and many hundreds of small lacerations, all but Steve have given up.
Presently, things have improved dramatically. Steve and Tim have recently been successful in rescuing a live avalanche victim on their first operation together. Hoping to build on the momentum generated by this historic event, Steve hopes to expand the CARCA program to the point where every ski resort is equipped with a CARCA trained cats and handler team.