Rescued Dogs Deployed to Rescue Survivors of the Turkey Earthquake
As they’ve previously done in disasters around the world, dogs trained by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) have been deployed to Turkey to search for survivors after the devastating earthquake on Feb. 6.
These dogs are truly paying it forward: they’ve all been rescued themselves from shelters and rescue groups across the United States.
“The traits that can make dogs unsuitable as family pets and land them in a shelter—intense energy and extreme drive—are exactly the qualities required in a search dog,” the SDF explains on its website. SDF is the only organization in the U.S. that rescues these dogs and trains them to become search dogs.
The rescued dogs spend nine to 10 months in training at the SDF facility in Santa Paula, Calif. They are then partnered, free of charge, with fire departments around the country.
Since the SDF was founded in 1996, it has trained 229 teams that have been deployed to over 230 disasters and missing person searches. Dogs rescued and trained by the SDF have previously helped locate survivors after major earthquakes in countries like Japan, Haiti and Nepal.
And now seven canine disaster search teams trained by SDF are currently in Turkey, working alongside human rescuers from around the world. One team, USA-1, is from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in Virginia. The other six teams, USA-2, are from the Los Angeles County Fire Department in California.
“No technology can match a dog’s speed and accuracy in finding people trapped in the wreckage of a disaster,” the SDF notes. Their sense of smell and ability to reach areas that humans can’t are a couple of the qualities that make them so good at this.
Although you may have read on social media that search dogs have found survivors, that unfortunately isn’t true, the Associated Press reports. And some recently posted photos of search dogs were actually taken during previous disasters, not the Turkey earthquake. However, the photo above was indeed taken in Turkey earlier this week and posted on Facebook by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
As of today, over 20,000 people did not survive the earthquake. Here’s wishing these search dogs much success in finding survivors and helping to lower the heartbreaking death toll.
How to help
To help the SDF rescue and train more dogs, you can make an online donation on their website.
You can also donate to nonprofit organizations such as the following that are helping people in Turkey and Syria impacted by the earthquake: