By Armita Rohani
A devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey near the Syrian border and killed more than 46,000 people. Thousands of buildings have fallen and thousands more have been trapped underneath. Thankfully, Mexico has sent their famous search-and-rescue dog team to help locate survivors, along with the help from the United States, UK, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Libya, Poland, and Switzerland. Breeds such as the Belgian Malinois, Australian Sheepdog and Labradors have been sent to find people in areas where using heavy machinery could cause further collapses and endanger the lives of those trapped underneath. These dogs work in groups of three and are trained to sniff out human scent in the midst of debris. When one dog finds someone they stand at the spot and bark loudly; a second dog is sent to confirm the findings. They work all day in 20 minute shifts, followed by 40 minute breaks.
Turkey’s state-run relief agency, AFAD, stated that “400 dogs are working the rubble. There are currently 86 search and rescue dogs from Turkey and 306 dogs from other countries who have arrived to aid the region.” One brave Mexican rescue dog, Proteo, died while trying to save civilians who were trapped under mounds of debris and rubble. Proteo and other Mexican rescue dogs have helped rescue workers save four people and deliver three tons of provisions. The people in Turkey join Mexicans as they mourn and praise Proteo: “Thank you, Proteo, we will always remember and honor you.” German rescue dogs Pia and Asko have been working alongside rescue teams in the epicenter of the quake. Danelva Felix, a German rescue worker has stated that the dogs have helped save more than ten people who were trapped beneath fallen buildings. Kopuk, a pale golden retriever who has become praised throughout social media, led a 77 hour rescue as he directed the AFAD team to a 60 year old woman who was deserted underneath a six-story building. A picture of him with yellow bandages on his paws has gone viral, showing how dangerous the working conditions for these dogs are.