The 77-strong team from UK fire and rescue services arrived in Turkey earlier in the week – along with four specialist search and rescue dogs – to assist with search and rescue operations following the devastating earthquakes.  Search and rescue teams say a British dog has been injured while helping the recovery effort after Turkey’s deadly earthquake – but should be back in action soon. Colin was deployed to Turkey as part of a team from Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service with his handler Neil Woodmansey.    A spokesperson for Lincolnshire team said: “The vet has popped a few stitches in his paw and he’s now on the mend!”

K9 Search and Rescue from Northern Ireland is a team also assisting in the search effort.  They had been on stand-by all week and on Wednesday received the go-ahead from the Turkish government to fly out to the disaster zone.

The Dutch search and rescue team USAR has so far rescued 11 people and a dog from the earthquake rubble in Turkey.   The USAR is one of many rescue teams from all over the world helping Turkish authorities search for survivors. The team consists of 65 first responders and eight rescue dogs

The rescue dogs continue to work ceaselessly in the earthquake-hit zones in Türkiye’s southeastern part as essential members of emergency response teams.  As true lifesavers, using their keen senses and training to bring hope and comfort to those affected by the earthquake, they have succeeded in saving many people trapped under the rubble.  As the search and rescue efforts continue in Malatya, the teams reached 60-year-old Meral Nakır, who was found on the first floor of a six-story building with the help of rescue dog Köpük, who saved her 77 hours after the earthquake. Köpük, which translates to Foam, works in tandem with the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) teams, helping them to access difficult areas in catastrophes.

Mexico is sending some of its famous search and rescue dogs to Turkey to help look for people buried under rubble following Monday’s earthquake.  A plane with 16 dogs on board took off from Mexico City earlier on Tuesday.  Mexico, which is prone to earthquakes, has highly specialised civilian and military teams which are often deployed to help when disasters strike.

The dogs won the hearts of Mexicans during the country’s 2017 quake, when they saved several lives. A yellow Labrador Retriever named Frida gained international fame when she was seen searching for survivors in Mexico City wearing protective goggles and boots.

Mexico is not the only country sending dogs to help with the rescue efforts in Turkey and Syria. Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Libya, Poland, Switzerland, the UK and the United States are all also deploying canines with their handlers.  Many countries, including the United States, are also sending aid to help with the rescue efforts.   US Transportation Command and the US Agency for International Development is sending two Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams, including 161 USAR personnel, 170,000 pounds of equipment and 12 search-and-rescue dogs to help dig survivors out of the debris.

The animals are often used in areas where the use of heavy machinery could cause the rubble to collapse further, putting the lives of survivors at risk.  The dogs are trained to sniff out humans and alert their handlers by barking and scratching the ground where the smell is strongest.

Mexican officials say their mission is “to save lives” and while the dogs can detect the smell of bodies as well as that of those who are buried under the rubble alive, the hope is that their quick deployment will result in rescues rather than recoveries.  Because time is of the essence in rescue operations like this, search-and-rescue dogs are valuable tools for finding anyone who could be trapped alive in the rubble. The highly trained search-and-rescue dogs are qualified to detect the scent of humans who might be buried.

So what exactly is the job of a search and rescue dog and its handler?  And how are these dogs trained to find human scents and let their handlers know where it is?  Experts estimate that a single S&R dog can search the same area as approximately 50 people on foot – and in far less time.  First it’s partly due to their keen sense of smell.  Dogs have 220 million scent receptors, compared to humans’ 5 million.  But they are also fast.  Time is always an issue in search and rescue.  In an avalanche, for instance, statistics show that more than 90% of people buried in snow can be rescued alive if they’re dug out within 15 minutes.  However, after 45 minutes, only 20-30 percent are still alive, and after two hours almost no one buried by an avalanche is found alive.  That means that SAR dogs are invaluable in locating people when time is critical.

SAR dogs can do a lot of amazing things, including rappel down mountainsides with their handlers, locate a human being within a 1640-foot (500-meter) radius, find a dead body under water, climb ladders and walk across an unstable beam in a collapsed building, but it’s all toward a single end: Finding human scent. This may be in the form of a living person, a dead body, a human tooth or an article of clothing. SAR dogs find missing persons, search disaster areas for survivors and bodies, and locate evidence at crime scenes, all by focusing on the smell of a human being

SAR dogs need to be big enough to successfully navigate treacherous terrain and push debris out of the way and yet small enough to transport easily.  The most difficult SAR specialty, urban disaster dogs search for human survivors in the rubble of collapsed buildings. They must navigate dangerous, unstable terrain. More than 300 urban rescue dog/handler teams responded to the collapse of the World Trade Centers on Sept. 11, 2001.  In major disasters like the collapse of the World Trade Center in 2001, air-scent dogs in all specialty areas assisted in the search. The devastation of 9/11 actually caused many of the SAR dogs to become depressed because the search for survivors was futile. The dogs are rewarded when they find survivors, and at Ground Zero, there were so few people found alive, and such an overwhelming smell of death, the dogs were affected. Some never worked as SAR dogs again.

And if these abilities don’t make a dog a magical creature, I don’t know what does!   To hone these special talents in a power-animal learn how to adapt the power of the dog by reading  Shaman Pathways: Aubry’s Dog by Melusine Draco published by Moon Books ISBN|978 1 78099 724 7 : 84 pages : UK£4.99/US$9.95 : paperback and e-book versions available.

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