After the devastating earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria, help began pouring in from around the world. Unfortunately, one of the most needed resources is specially trained canines for search and rescue efforts. Dogs, who weigh less than humans and have a much better sense of smell and hearing, are well-suited for the difficult work of locating survivors. Many have arrived but more are still needed.
Now, a search and rescue charity from County Down in Northern Ireland is preparing to deploy to one of the hardest-hit regions to try to assist where they are most needed.
According to the Independent, Ryan Gray, from the K9 Search and Rescue NI charity, is leading a team to assist in the search effort, preparing to travel from Northern Ireland on Friday, February 10. The 36-year-old hailing from Bangor, County Down, stated that they were on standby all week, and on Wednesday, February 8, received the green light from the Turkish government to fly out to the disaster zone.
A self-funded charity, they have been up and running for five years. During that time, they’ve worked in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and Scotland, including at the scene of a horrific gas station explosion in Creeslough, County Donegal, last year.
Search & Rescue Dogs
Gray heads a team of eight dogs and 21 operational workers. He’s been involved in this type of work for 14 years now, including working for the U.K. Coastguard.
“This is what we train for. The dogs we are sending are USAR dogs (Urban Search and Rescue) and specialize in detecting people in collapsed building structures,” he explained. “We’ve trained in California, at the U.K. fire service college, and are due to train in Kosovo next month.
“We’re a team that is hungry to learn from everyone, and we like to think we’re one of the most professional search and rescue dog teams in the U.K. It’s fantastic what the dogs can do. I have no doubt when we go out there that we’ll be making a very positive difference. “We will certainly do our very best while there.”
Making a Difference
Two dogs that were involved in the high-profile search effort in Creeslough, black Labs Max and Delta, are being prepped to deploy as well.
“We will fly to Turkey on Friday with the dogs but really have no idea of the scale of devastation we will face upon arrival,” Gray continued. “We will get straight to work, knowing this search and rescue mission is time sensitive and every minute that passes can be the difference between life and death.”
Gray reaffirmed the charity is self funded, and encouraged people to support their work to allow them to remain in the disaster zone for as long as they are needed. “We would be grateful of any support in the coming days and weeks,” he added.