By Jennifer Viegas
Professionally trained "sniffer" search dogs from around the
world have been recruited this week to aid rescue operations
in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. The effort appears to be unprecedented
in scale, matching the devastation already documented in the
French teams with "sniffer dogs" were seen boarding vans yesterday,
headed to the airport on their way to Haiti. The dogs are trained
to serve, so many excitedly jumped forward on their leashes in
China dispatched a chartered plane containing multiple sniffer
dogs and 10 tons of tents, food and medical equipment. A somber
ceremony was held at the Beijing airport before the teams left,
with handlers and their dogs lined up, equipment at the ready.
The team from China arrived in Haiti today and is presently at
An Itar Tass bulletin reports that a team from the Russian Ministry
for Emergency Situations (EMERCOM) left Moscow today, also bound
for Haiti. The IL-76 plane contained 22 rescuers in total. Among
the team were eight doctors, two psychologists and six canine
specialists with search and rescue dogs. Another news report
mentioned that the dogs--3 Labradors, 2 golden retrievers and a
German shepherd--helped to ease the tension of those on board the
plane, which had a stop off in Iceland. The dogs are traveling
freely, without cages, but onlookers are discouraged from having
contact with the on-duty dogs. An EMERCOM spokesperson said, "The
dogs are to work heavily in stress conditions and their state
cannot be put in the slightest jeopardy."
Peruvian firefighters Gustavo Villavisencio, with sniffer dog
Duncan, and Vanessa Diaz, with her trained dog Rory, were seen
preparing to depart for Haiti yesterday.
The Mexican Navy has also brought in a team with rescue dogs, as
well as food, equipment and other supplies for the earthquake
A large team from Taiwan filed into a local airport, once again
bound for Haiti. At least one rescue dog was seen accompanying
Britain's international development minister, Douglas Alexander,
reports that a 64-member team, including sniffer dogs, has left for
Haiti from London's Gatwick Airport, according to The Straits Times.
Dozens of other countries, including Spain, Iceland, Canada,
Germany, Venezuela and more, have pledged to send rescue teams,
doctors, cash and supplies. Most are already on the scene at the
The U.S. was among the first to help, with President Barack Obama
saying that Americans continue to "stand ready to assist the people
of Haiti." According to Rajiv Shah, and reported by Business Week,
the United States has sent two 72-member search and rescue teams
with dogs to help dig out survivors. Shah was designated by Obama
to coordinate the U.S. relief effort.
American organizations that train search and rescue dogs have
issued calls to action. For example, the National Disaster Search
Dog Foundation posted a deployment at 10 PM last night. Six dog-
and-handler teams have been sent to Haiti. (If you visit the NDSDF
website using the aforementioned link, you can watch a video
showing the early stages of the deployment.)
NDSDF executive director Debra Tosch said, "Our hearts go out to
our neighbors in Haiti, and we're honored to be able to help find
survivors of this terrible tragedy as part of CA-TF2 (the code name
for the task force). This is the day that our teams have trained
for; when the unthinkable happens, SDF Teams stand ready to
respond, bringing hope and comfort to victims and their loved ones."
Images and additional videos showing the NDSDF dogs at work on
other missions are at the foundation's YouTube page.
Haiti Earthquake: How You Can Help The Victims:
* The American Red Cross is accepting donations by phone. You can
text "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross's efforts, or
call 1-800-Redcross or 1-800-257-7575. Visit their Web site to
find out more.
* Interaction, the largest coalition of U.S.-based NGOs focused
on the world's poor, has set up a Haiti relief donation page,
listing several participating organizations where you can donate.
* UNICEF is also accepting donations for the relief efforts in
Haiti and the Caribbean region. Visit their Web site or call
1-800-4UNICEF to donate.