Rescue Dogs: Faithful and Protective

Rescue dogs play a very important role in search blocks after natural disasters.

proteus rescue dog

Photo: TW-m_ebrard

LatinAmerican Post | July Vanesa López

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Leer en español: Perros rescatistas: fieles y protectores

The sense of smell in dogs is very powerful, it has between 200 and 300 million olfactory receptors (human beings only have 1 million), which allows them to identify around a million smells. In addition, their respiratory system is connected to the cerebral amygdala, an area that is linked to memory and emotions, so smell is their most developed sense. Due to this, dogs are considered the perfect animals to collaborate in search and rescue blocks after natural catastrophes, as is currently the case in Turkey and Syria, countries in which the amount of decease from the 7.1 earthquake on the Richter scale, that happened last February 6, is already at 39,000 and continues rising.

Read also: Earthquake in Syria: the tragedy that does not end

Kopuk, the Golden Retriever from Turkey

Following the disaster in these countries, several rescue dogs have made headlines for their brave dedication and work. One of them is a Golden Retriever named Kopuk, who has been recognized, since he decided to continue his search and found 5 more people, after he injured his legs with glass in the rubble. Photos of Kopuk with his bandaged legs among the rubble have gone around the world this week.

Tribute to Proteo

On the other hand, in recent days tribute was paid to Proteo, a Belgian shepherd brought from Mexico who was carrying out search work in Turkey when he died of heat stroke, according to the Mexican National Defense Secretary. Proteo was part of the squad of 10 rescue dogs from the Mexican army that arrived in the country to help search for people among the rubble. His fellow dogs and those who worked with Proteo throughout his ten years of life remembered him fondly and said goodbye to him.

Likewise, Mexicans shared their admiration for the dog on social networks and remembered with great devotion the role of rescue dogs in the two earthquakes that most impacted Mexico, in 1985 and in 2017. Mexican rescue dogs are considered one of the best for their training and for the experience they have in their own country. However, several people also reacted to the events and declared that rescue dogs are directly exposed to animal abuse, since their working conditions are highly deadly.

How do Rescue Dogs do their Job?

The first time they use dogs to rescue can be dated back to 1800 in the Swiss Alps, the year in which Barry, a dog known for saving 40 lives throughout his 14 years of life, was known. This is how in Switzerland dogs began to be trained to search, find and rescue travelers who had been buried after avalanches.

For a dog to be part of the rescue team, they must begin their training since they are puppies, due to their training last between 2 and 3 years. They must complete several tests and must meet certain aspects regarding their olfactory and physical ability. In addition, fur is considered for rescue work in cold and hot climates.

The dogs learn the rescue work through games, in which they are rewarded each time they find a human. Once in a real-world situation, dogs search for human odor particles (such as sweat, hormones, blood, feces, and even breath) so powerfully that they can identify odors regardless of quantity and content. any debris materials. There are even rescue dogs that work on boats to find humans underwater. Once the dog has found the scent, it alerts rescuers by barking or scratching at the debris.

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