In remembrance of all those who passed away during the horrid 9/11 attacks in New York I wanted to find a little more information about our search and rescue dogs and their handlers. I read an article in National Geographic written on June 21, 2021 by Brian Handwerk entitled: “How Search and Rescue Dogs Find Survivors…”
It was talking about a 12-story condo building which collapsed in Florida near Miami and says the search and rescue dogs sniff for human breath and the dogs bark to let their human handler know when they find someone. They work if possible in the middle of the night as well as day to find survivors in disasters.
Of course the canine sense of smell is tremendous over ours. As reported by a recent article in The Bark, a dogs sniff rate when they are actively sniffing is 140 to 200 times per minute.
There are search and rescue dogs also trained specifically as ‘cadaver dogs’ to find remains. Unfortunately necessary however good as a means for closure for family members and loved ones of those who have died.
The article goes on to explain that it takes one and a half to two years to readily train a dog and handler to become “mission ready”. So it is quite time consuming and expensive. And definitely worth the time and effort to save lives.
The dogs are of many diverse breeds. Some are trained to seek out human scent. Trailing or tracking dogs follow a missing person’s path…even under water. The dogs are trained to see their search as a game and are rewarded for their finds.
An all-volunteer organization named California Rescue Dog Association, Inc. is USA’s largest search and rescue dog group. One training task they use if a dog has an unsuccessful search is to ‘hide’ someone and have the dog search for that person shortly so that the search and rescue dog ends up the day with a success and a reward.
These dogs are pets of their handlers so they get the same treatment as any pet and get to play after one of their ‘finds’ with a favorite toy or a maybe a game of tug of war.
Bev Peabody, a founding member of the above-mentioned rescue group and handler and trainer, reported that fortunately many canine searches end happily. She goes on to state that after the Mexico City earthquake she was there for five days and in that time the dogs had found 8 people alive in the destruction.
That is the time, it mentions, that the demand for search and rescue teams went up dramatically here in the USA.
Here is a link to the National Geographic article: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/rescue-dogs-behavior-animals,
Please watch a great 9/11 video following about our search and rescue dogs and handlers and their work at Ground Zero: https://biggeekdad.com/2016/09/911-hero-dogs/.
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