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Canadian Search and Rescue Dogs Help in Peru

Thanks to Canada.com for this article on some valiant Canadian dogs. Dogs return from mission of mercy in Peru For two Edmonton dogs assigned to...

Joy  |  Aug 28th 2007


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Thanks to Canada.com for this article on some valiant Canadian dogs.

Dogs return from mission of mercy in Peru

For two Edmonton dogs assigned to search through the rubble of earthquake-torn Peru, the difference between life and death was a bark and a whimper.

“For my dog, when she’s looking for victims, if it’s a live body she’ll bark quite loudly,” said Neisja Ruth, a trainer with the Edmonton-based Canadian Search and Disaster Dogs Association.

“If it’s a dead body, she’ll only scratch in place and whimper.”

Ruth and her dog, Kiora, along with trainer Silvie Montier and her dog, Dante, travelled to the hardest-hit city of Pisco for four days last week to look for survivors from the Aug. 15 earthquake, the worst to hit the country in three decades.

Unfortunately, the majority of sounds coming from the dogs were whimpers, Montier said – only two of the many victims they found had vital signs.

“It was such a chaos,” Montier said. “There was dirt and stones everywhere.”

Officials estimate more than 540 people were killed in the earthquake that shook the country Aug. 15. Even more are thought to be still trapped in the rubble.

Destruction was centred in Peru’s southern desert, at the port of Pisco and the nearby city of Ica, about 200 kilometres southeast of the capital, Lima.

The dog team, which landed in Peru on Aug. 18, was sent all over Pisco to the remains of churches, hotels and homes.

Most experts recommend search-and-rescue dogs work for four hours at a time with hour-long breaks in between. But due to the chaos and lack of trained canines in Peru, the Canadian dogs put in shifts that lasted as long as 11 hours, Montier said .

The International Rescue Dog Organization dispatched 11 dogs to Peru, of which only Dante and Kiora were from North America.

Ruth said both dogs became emotionally affected by the lack of survivors.

“After the third day I could see Kiora was getting stressed,” she said. “I could tell she didn’t really want to go to work. She’d go to a pile but what she really wanted to do is run away. She wanted to sleep all the time, she didn’t want to eat. She was depressed.”

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