Uruguayan K-9 Unit Supports Rescue Efforts
By Dialogo April 01, 2010
It takes a special kind of dog to sniff for signs of life. Ideally, you want to begin training them as puppies since it’s a long process that requires patience and dedication. These dogs need to be sociable and have strength, endurance and an obsession for playing with toys. These toys will be their reward for finding a person alive.
“Without a doubt, the most gratifying moment was when I saw a man who was pinned beneath the rubble saved,” said 1st Lt. Andrea de los Santos of the Uruguayan Army K-9 rescue team.
Two days after the earthquake, de los Santos, her German shepherd, Falko, and the rest of the team were on Haitian soil, digging through the rubble for survivors. “In those moments, I put my professional military training to use and concentrated on the task of saving lives. I could see that our work was of paramount importance.”
The Uruguayan K-9 unit, working under MINUSTAH, was paired with search-and-rescue teams from El Salvador and Guatemala. Coordination between the teams was vital because they each had specific tasks. The K-9 units from Uruguay would search for signs of life, and the rescue teams from El Salvador and Guatemala would pull survivors out.
Throughout a two-week mission in Haiti, the K-9 team saw several lives saved and searched for signs of life in many areas reduced to rubble. Although most of the people they found had perished, the team was confident in knowing that their dogs left no one behind.