A team of Alberta search and rescue experts and their specially-trained dogs are heading to the Philippines.

The volunteers and their animals will be searching through the wreckage left by Typhoon Haiyan, which has killed thousands of people and displaced about half a million more.

Five-year-old Juno is going on the mission with her handler Karen Somerville, a Calgary firefighter.

“Obviously this is a country just torn apart by disaster and any little thing that we can do to help this is worth it, whatever we can do,” said Somerville.

Karen and Juno

Karen Somerville, left, with her specially-trained search and rescue dog Juno, is going to the Philippines to help search for victims of Typhoon Haiyan along with Sylvie Montier and her dog. (Neil Herland/CBC)

"This is our chance to really help the people of the Philippines and that's what I hope that we can go there and help locate some people trapped in the rubble.”

Somerville rescued Juno, a border collie-Golden retriever cross, from the Cochrane SPCA several years ago and soon realized the high-energy dog had untapped talents.

Somerville and Juno joined the Canadian Search and Disaster Dog Association (CASDDA), which trains and deploys dogs and their handlers for search and rescue missions locally, nationally and internationally.

“Our mandate requires the extreme dedication of our members, and our volunteer handlers train long hours every week with their dogs, in cold or hot weather. They are willing to leave their personal and professional lives on a phone call notice, often suffering loss of wages,” says a statement on CASDDA’s Facebook page.

CASDDA team leader Sylvie Montier admits there is not always a happy ending.

"We always go hoping to find live people but people have to realize that even if we find only dead, it's very important for the family, it gives them closure."