Team Biographies

Meet our search and rescue team members and learn more about them.

Cindy Atwood
Region: Southern

Breed: Belgian Shepherd Tervuren, “Ari”
Wilderness Air Scent Search. Ari is Cindy’s 3rd SAR dog.

Arin Auger Region: Southern

MESARD Member Since: 2014

Arin is currently serving as a support member of MESARD after working as a flanker for over ten years. She is a fire fighter Advanced EMT with ocean rescue training, and is a licensed Athletic Trainer for the state. She has been a member of Maine Task Force 1 since 2010.

Dani Beauchemin Region: Western

MESARD Member since 2022

Breed: Hungarian Mudi

Dani started SAR in 2013 while living in Pennsylvania.  In 2016 she joined ICESAR and became an instructor and guide for the Icelandic search and rescue academy.  Dani is training her 2nd SAR dog, Fenrir, to follow in his sister Xena’s footsteps.  Dani is a W-EMT and enjoys training in arctic rescue, bushcraft, and wilderness medicine.

Douglas Blauvelt Region: Western

MESARD Member Since 2022

Breed: Labrador Retriever 

Doug is CPR/First Aid certified and is an active member of Franklin Search and Rescue as a Certified Ground Searcher and a new member of MESARD.

Journey is Doug’s first Search dog, and they are working towards Wilderness Air Scent Search Certification.

Melissa Brown Region: Northern

MESARD Member Since: 2021

Breed: Redbone Coonhound

Melissa started as a K9 handler and trainer during her career as a sergeant with the New Jersey State Park Police. She worked two Police Bloodhounds, locating many lost and wanted individuals before retiring and moving to Maine in 2020. After her second partner passed away, she rescued her current K9, Cooper. They are currently training to certify as a trailing team for MESARD. Melissa’s other experiences include being a member of an interagency National Park Service High Angle Rescue Team, a certified scuba diver with an underwater recovery team and is currently a volunteer with her local fire department as an Emergency Medical Responder.

Chad and Jenga

Chad Carleton Region: Southern

MESARD Member Since: 2014

Breed: Dutch Shepherd

Chad’s first dog Jenga is now retired. She was certified in Wilderness Air Scent Search, Article Search and Advanced Land HRD. Chad is currently training a new dog. He also serves as MESARD’s vice president.

John Corriveau

Region: Northern

MESARD Member Since: 2005

Breed: Black Labrador

John has trained, certified, and deployed two SAR dogs with MESARD.  Jodi, an Australian Shepherd, his first dog was certified in Wilderness Air Scent. Currently, John deploys with Buddy, a Lab, his second Wilderness Air Scent search dog.

Elizabeth Fossett Region: Southern

MESARD Member Since: 2012

Breed: German Shepherd

Zena certified in Wilderness Air Scent Search in 2021 and is her 2nd SAR K9. Kobuk retired in 2020 with a lifesaving find in 2014. Elizabeth served as Secretary from 2/2022 to 5/2022. Elizabeth is currently the team Treasurer.

Jay Holweger and Piper

Jay Holweger Region: Midcoast

MESARD Member Since: 2007

Breed: Labrador Retriever

Jay has been a member of Waldo County Search and Rescue since January 2007. His first dog Maddy was certified in Wilderness Air Scent Search and Water Search. Jay is now training his second dog Piper as a trailing dog.

Leslie Howe and Vrijheid's Eron

Leslie Howe Region: Downeast

MESARD Member Since: 2004

Breed: Dutch Shepherd

Vrjheid Uerly is her third SAR dog and is certified in Wilderness Air Scent, Wilderness HRD and IPWDA Land HRD. Leslie is MESARD’s training director.

Pascale Jessup and Maya

Pascale Jessup Region: Midcoast

MESARD Member Since: 2020

Breed: Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Pascale started her work in SAR in 2017 while living in Alabama. She is certified as a SARTech II under NASAR and deployed to Florida after Hurricane Michael in 2018 as a flanker. After 1 year of training as a ground searcher and flanker she got her first search K9, Maya, in 2018. Since then, she worked many crime scene cases while in Alabama and moved to Maine in 2019. Maya is IPWDA certified in Advanced Wilderness Land and Crime Scene HRD.

Jake Letendre Region: Central

MESARD Member Since: 2012

Breed: Labrador Retriever

Reese is certified in Wilderness Air Scent. Jake is a Firefighter/EMT for the City of Lewiston. Reese is his first certified SAR canine.

William Nichols Region: Midcoast

MESARD Member Since: 2014

Will joined MESARD as a flanker in 2014 after having been a member of Waldo County Search and Rescue since 2013. He is an active member of his town’s ambulance service and volunteer fire department, and he is a Registered Maine Guide.

Deb Palman and Raven at Baxter

Deborah Palman Region: Central

MESARD Member Since: Founding Member

Breed: Labrador Retriever

Raven is certified in Wilderness Air Scent Search, and Wilderness Human Remains Search. Deb was the K9 Training Coordinator for the Maine Warden Service K9 Team and is one of the founding members of MESARD. Raven is her 6th SAR dog. Before Raven, she trained German Shepherds for SAR and law enforcement work. Deb retired from the Maine Warden Service after 30 years of service as a Maine Game Warden. She is a Master Trainer for the International Police Work Dog Association, and a Maine Criminal Justice Academy certified police K9 trainer.

Violet Zerbe Region: Midcoast

Member since: 2021

Breed: German Shepherd

Violet is an Advanced EMT, a founding member of Coastal Mountain Search and Rescue team and a flanker for MESARD. She is training to certify her dog in wilderness Airscent. 

Kelly Pontbriand Region: Western

MESARD Member Since: 1987

Breed: Border Collie

Kelly started training dogs for search and rescue in 1985. After certifying her first search dog with MESARD in 1989, she moved out west. As a ranger with the National Park Service, Kelly responded to searches in South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Washington. A move to Acadia National Park in Maine brought Kelly back to MESARD in 2002. She is currently training Beck for air scent work and serving as MESARD’s president.

Melissa Shea

Melissa Shea Region: Western

MESARD Member Since: 2014

Melissa is a MASAR certified Ground Searcher and serves as a board member of Franklin Search and Rescue. She is also a certified Wilderness First Responder (WFR) with extensive rope rescue training and experience as well as a registered Maine Guide. Melissa joined MESARD as a Flanker and assists the team with navigation, communication, and first aid.

Elizabeth Volkwein Region: Midcoast

MESARD Member Since: 2017

After five years of helping the team at trainings. Liz is a certified Flanker.

Nichole St. Pierre and Baxter

Nicole St. Pierre Region: Central

MESARD Member Since: 2018

Breed: Labrador Retriever

Baxter is her first search dog and is certified in wilderness Airscent and Advanced Land Human Remains (HR). She is also a full time Firefighter and Paramedic for the City of Bath. Nicole is currently the team Secretary.

Beth Swartz and Angel

Beth Swartz Region: Central

MESARD Member Since: 1987

Breed: Rottweiler

Beth is a former MESARD dog handler, having trained and certified two Rottweilers (Willa and Hazel) for Wilderness Air Scent, Water Search, Evidence Search, and Wilderness Human Remains Detection. When her third Rottweiler developed health issues while still early in training, Beth stepped down as a dog handler and she now contributes by providing training support for the team.

Tina Turcotte Region: Central

MESARD Member Since: 2016

Breed: Bloodhound

Miss Tilly is Tina’s current Bloodhound working on certification.
Sir Sherlock was Tina’s first certified Bloodhound SAR dog and is now retired.