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What Do the Rescue Dogs in Haiti Have to Do With Your Career?

The Boston Globe summarized the Haiti earthquake as follows: “Tuesday afternoon, January 12th, the worst earthquake in 200 years – 7.0 in magnitude – struck less than ten miles from the Caribbean city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The initial quake was later followed by twelve aftershocks greater than magnitude 5.0. Structures of all kinds were damaged or collapsed, from shantytown homes to national landmarks. It is still very early in the recovery effort, but millions are likely displaced, and thousands are feared dead as rescue teams from all over the world are now descending on Haiti to help where they are able.”

As a result, many countries are responding to this earthquake in Haiti with an outpouring of food, supplies and volunteers. But that is not all; they are also sending Search and 올인구조대 (SAR) dogs. The list of participating countries who have pledged to send search and rescue teams to Haiti includes Spain, Iceland, Canada, Germany, Venezuela, Russia, China and the US. But the list is growing.

As the Search Dog Foundation notes:
“As dawn broke over Port-Au-Prince today, a C-17 cargo plane landed with its life-saving cargo: six Canine Disaster Search Teams trained by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF).”

What is a Search and Rescue (SAR) Dog?
These dogs are called up for work in a time of crisis, when one or more humans have been lost. There are many situations that call for the work of an SAR dog; searches are conducted in wilderness settings, natural disasters, cadaver searches, avalanche entrapment, and water settings for drowning victims.

How do they work?
These SAR dogs will play a crucial role in locating both living and dead victims of this disaster in Haiti. But how do they work? Search and rescue (SAR) dogs can detect human scent. These dogs have a sense of smell that is far more powerful than that of a human. Also, a dog’s sense of smell is not only more powerful than ours, it is more discerning. Thus a dog can pick out a target odor in a mix of odors. When humans are trapped under rubble, dogs are trained to focus on one scent. In order to find the victim as quickly as possible, the dog learns to ignore all other scents and noises. One could imagine the number of distractions that these dogs must face: the screams, the frantic workers, the variety of smells, and other animals.

 

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