top of page

About Us


Avalanche and search dogs from the Upper Austria mountain rescue service

The avalanche and search dogs of the Upper Austria Mountain Rescue are a small special unit of the Upper Austrian Mountain Rescue for search and rescue operations in alpine terrain. We also support disaster operations and police search operations in rural and urban areas.

Our history

In 1972 and 1973, Franz Windhager was the first mountain rescue man from Upper Austria to attend avalanche dog courses in Tyrol and Carinthia. With the knowledge gained and the support of three dog handlers from Carinthia, the first dog winter training in Upper Austria was carried out at the Dümlerhütte in 1974.

At first, only a few mountain rescuers were enthusiastic about the new, somewhat exotic field of activity, but the Upper Austria avalanche and search dog team soon grew to a considerable size of 18 dog/dog handler teams.

In 1983, Franz Windhager had to hand over the management of the dog team to a man from the very beginning - Karl Freinthaler - for health reasons. Under his command, the work with the dogs developed steadily and a level of performance was achieved that no longer needed to be afraid of comparison in Austria.

Ten years later, Klaus Windhager - the son of the founder Franz Windhager - finally took over the management and managed the fortunes of the Upper Austrian dog handlers until 2003.

During this time, the range of training and operations was expanded to include debris searches after earthquake disasters and also practiced in conjunction with international forces. Particularly worth mentioning in this context are the international EU/NATO disaster exercise in 1993 and two earthquake operations in Turkey in 1999 (dog handlers deployed: Hackl, Hirnböck, Preimesberger, Tragatschnig).


When Lorenz Tragatschnig was appointed as the new head of the avalanche and search dog team in 2003, it also involved a generational change. Some long-serving dog handlers began their well-deserved retirement because their dogs were ready for retirement, while young and newly motivated mountain rescuers from the various local departments took over.

bottom of page