Rescue efforts are ongoing in response to the most devastating disaster to hit Haiti in 200 years, and dogs are a big part of the action. Canine Disaster Search Teams trained by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation are among those deployed to find people buried alive under the wreckage left after the earthquake.
Live-scent search dogs are considered the safest and fastest tool we have to determine if there are survivers under mounds of rubble. They save lives by alerting handlers to locations of survivors that may have been trapped for days. Trained to quickly crawl through tunnels, over wobbly piles of debris and even up and down ladders, search dogs from the Search Dog Foundation played a pivotal role at Ground Zero, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and other major disasters.
The Search Dog Foundation, a non-profit organization, recruits abused or abandoned dogs and gives them a new lease on life by providing training and then matching them with handlers, generally firefighters or other first responders. See a video of how the dogs train here.
The teams in Haiti are working long, 12-hour shifts, stopping only long enough to let the dogs rest before starting to search again. No matter how long it takes, they will work until the search operations are completed. Get all the updates on their efforts by following SDF on Twitter.
According to SDF, there is currently a sever shortage of certified canine search teams in the U.S. You can help by donating, sponsoring a dog, or even adopting a former search dog or trainee that was unable to finish the program.