Four-legged heroes: Rescue dogs save lives in southern Turkey’s earthquake aftermath
In the aftermath of the twin earthquakes that recently hit southern Turkey, specially trained dogs played a crucial role in search and rescue operations, saving numerous lives. Mustafa Yorganci, who is part of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation’s search and rescue team, recounted how Angel, a special dog, helped save nearly a dozen people from the rubble in Hatay province.
Turkish NGOs and rescue departments currently have 38 search and rescue dogs in the earthquake-affected region, all of which are trained to find people and save lives.
Yorganci explained that dogs undergo specialized training, and breeds such as German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois are especially favored for this work. He stressed that “no technology can rival a dog’s nose,” adding that even a person doing nothing more than breathing under rubble can be enough for a specially trained dog to react and direct search and rescue crews to their exact location. In the quake-affected region, dogs can sense living people in an area of up to 50 square meters.
Dogs from other countries also assisted in the search operations, with the EU sending over 100 search dogs to the affected areas, and the Swiss Association for Search and Rescue Dogs deploying 14 specially trained dogs for the rescue. Alpha, a search and rescue dog from GEA, rescued 20 people, while Killian, a 6-year-old golden retriever, saved 17 lives by locating people trapped in the rubble.
Although a dog’s life can be put in danger, as demonstrated by the case of Proteo, the German shepherd assisting Mexican millitary teams that died after being injured while rescuing two people, then called “heroic” by Mexican government, their sacrifice is not forgotten.