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The Hero Dogs Helping to Save Lives
Earlier this month the world was absolutely shocked to see the devastation caused by a series of earthquakes in south-eastern Turkey near the Syrian border.
With thousands of people losing their lives and many more missing, this disaster has caused a humanitarian crisis in Turkey and Syria that many countries across the world have been trying to help with by sending aid and teams of search and rescue personnel.
One of the things that this tragic situation has shed light on is the importance of trained specialist dogs in these disastrous times and the wonderful work they do to help people in their time of need. For example, the UK has sent over teams that include specialist search dogs over to Gaziantep in Turkey to support the ongoing earthquake response, helping to find people trapped in the rubble.
NI Search and Rescue Dogs Helping Save Lives
One of the happier stories that came out over the last few days was that of dogs Max and Delta who have been instrumental in helping a search and rescue team from Northern Ireland and finding people alive in the devastation over ten days after the earthquake itself.
The team from K9 Search and Rescue NI are working with Evolsar, the European Association of Civil Protection Volunteer Teams, who are an essential part of helping in the aftermath of such disasters.
These dogs are just two of the thousands of search and rescue dogs across our country that are essential in helping us humans when we simply can't do the job ourselves. Their stunning senses of smell and hearing can be the difference between life and death for people in these awful situations.
West Cornwall Search and Rescue Team
In Cornwall, we have the West Cornwall Search and Rescue Team (WCSAR) which is a member of Mountain Rescue England and Wales and operate a voluntary search and rescue service that is used to help the police search for missing people from a wide variety of backgrounds. This team includes Merryn who is an operational air-scented search dog and is ready to be deployed when needed in Cornwall or further afield.
Search dogs such as Merryn are trained to air-scent, which is a way of reacting to wind-borne human scent and when deployed skillfully by experienced handlers enables the dog to find people in large search areas that can be covered much quicker and more thoroughly than human search teams can. Dogs like Merryn can be trained to pick up human scents and immediately follow them to their source, no matter the terrain, light levels or search area size.
It is easy to see how essential search and rescue dogs would be in emergency situations, allowing searches to be conducted at vastly quicker times and helping to save lives that would be in danger.
Dogs in the Fire Service
Dogs are also essential members of the team in the fire services across the UK. Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service utilise a Cocker Spaniel by the name of Archie to help investigate the causes of fires using his superior olfactory sense. Dogs can detect smells that we humans would have no chance of finding and, as such, become an essential part of fire investigation search teams, who are dispatched to determine the causes of fires. Not only can this wonderful work lead to prosecutions for arsonists, but it can also help to keep us all safe by allowing the fire service to keep a tab on how fires are started and how best to deal with them once they are.
Bilbo the RNLI Dog
There is also the case of Bilbo, one of Cornwall’s best-loved dogs, who became a lifeguard dog at Sennen Cove with the help of his owner and fellow lifeguard Steve Jamieson. Bilbo was able to save people in distress from the water in the same way human lifeguards could, becoming an invaluable member of the team and being attributed with the saving of at least three lives bad the prevention of countless others. And being a 14-stone Newfoundland he became a bit of a poster boy too, until his sad passing in 2015.
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