Search and Rescue Dogs Aid Japanese Tsunami Victims

American canine search and rescue teams are busy in Japan, sniffing out tsunami survivors and missing persons.

Canine search team arrives in Japan after the tsunami
Canine search team arrives in Japan after the tsunami. Search Dog Foundation photo.

With canine search and rescue teams, dogs are getting the chance to do their part for tsunami-ravaged Japan.

The U.S. Agency for International Development Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) requested that the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s California Task Force 2, a canine search and rescue unit, travel to Japan to aid in the search for survivors and missing people. Assisting them will be Fairfax County, Virginia’s, Urban Search and Rescue canine team.

The team, already deployed, had only been back in the United States a mere 24 hours after assisting with earthquake relief efforts in New Zealand.

“I’ve seen some pretty gnarly stuff,” L.A. fire engineer Jason Vasquez, who works with a German shepherd named Maverick, told reporters. “We search night and day in buildings that might collapse at any minute…. For the handler, it’s a pretty stressful situation being so far from home. But the dogs — they don’t know the difference between a block away and 2,000 miles away.”

Camp Bow Wow’s Bow Wow Buddies Foundation is raising money to support the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, which has deployed teams of search and rescue dogs to scour the wreckage in Japan for tsunami and earthquake survivors. The nonprofit will be taking donations for the cause until March 30, 2011. To donate, click here:

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