Western Montana Search Dogs Members/Bios 

BONNIE WHITMAN                       

Bonnie Whitman (Gafney)  retired in 2014 after 34 years as a Park Ranger with the National Park Service. She now lives in Bozeman, MT with her husband, 2 working dogs and 2 retired horses. She started her first SAR dog, Sarena, in 1988.  She was actively involved with SAR in Yellowstone National Park and West Yellowstone for over 25 years, and now continues that passion in Bozeman. Bonnie has been training dogs for 28 years, and is currently starting her fifth German Shepherd, Sabre, while Gator continues his strong work. She and her dogs have been active in a wide variety of SAR and LE missions over the years in a variety of locations.  She started drug detection work with her second dog, Smokey, in 2002 and became a certifying official for NPCA in 2007.  GSD's  Auggie and Gator continued is that role as well. Gator is currently certified in trailing, avalanche, cadaver, wilderness area search, water recovery, evidence, building search and drug detection. Sabre is certified in level 1 cadaver, and is working hard in his training.                                                                                                                                               

Ladean McKittrick

Ladean McKittrick is primary handler of Trigg, secondary handler of Trace, and was previously a primary handler of Tucker (recently retired).  Ladean is currently certified with Trigg in Wilderness, Cadaver, Water, and Tracking/Trailing.  He is certified with Trace in Avalanche, & Wilderness.  He was previously certified with Tucker in Wilderness, Trailing, Cadaver, Water, & Avalanche.  He has been active with Gallatin County Search & Rescue (GCSAR) since ~1996.  In addition to Search Dogs, Ladean is an active participant in the GCSAR Heli, Alpine, & Hasty units along with the GCSAR component of the Gallatin Ham Radio Club.  When not volunteering for Search & Rescue, Ladean is an Asst. Research Professor with the Civil Engineering Department at Montana State University (MSU) in Bozeman and the Asst. Director of the Subzero Science & Engineering Research Facility (SSERF) at MSU.  


Russell Lubner has been active with Gallatin County SAR in Bozeman since 1994.  He recently started his fifth bloodhound, Jake, as he continues with his certified dog, RingoRingo is certified in wilderness and urban trailing, cadaver, and shore and open water recovery. Russell has been a certified Heavy Duty Diesel Mechanic for 30+ years and currently works for Freightliner in Belgrade.

Leslie McKittrick                 

Leslie McKittrick lives in Bozeman, MT and has recently retired from her career as a nutrition counselor with the WIC Program.  She has volunteered with Western Montana Search dogs and Gallatin County SAR as a dog handler and HAM Radio operator for over fifteen years.  She is currently working both Trace and Trigger.  Leslie and Trace are certified in Cadaver II, and Open Water and Shore Searches.  Leslie and Trigger are certified in  Water/Shore, Cadaver II and Wilderness Area Searches. Leslie currently is training her young dog Tellen for Trailing and Cadaver certifications.


Colette Daigle-Berg has been a search dog handler since 1994.  She retired from a 33 year career as a Ranger with the National Park Service in Yellowstone in 2012. She started her current dog, Chapter as a puppy in September of 2012.  Chapter, a border collie mix is currently certified in Tracking, cadaver, wilderness area search, avalanche and water - shore search.