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Rescue Dogs Helping Recover Bodies Following Earthquake in Taiwan

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Taiwan was hit by its largest earthquake in 25 years on April 3, 2024. Authorities are still searching for dead bodies and injured people more than 10 days later.

Three families have closure thanks to a dog named Roger with Kaohsiung Special Search and Rescue. The three bodies were recovered along the Shakadang Trail in Taroko National Park. The people were hiking in this park that is about 15 miles Hualien City.

In the latest uplifting search and rescue dog news, Roger is certified by the International Rescue Dog Organization. He has received specialized search-and-rescue dog training in rubble pile search and rescue.

When he smells a body, he puts his head down and starts sniffing in a particular spot. This alerts his handler that rescue crews need to dig in that area. His training has always involved finding people alive, but Roger has been able to expand his skills without further training.

Roger has not always been successful. He was born in a unique center where pups are trained from birth to sniff out drugs. He failed in that position because he was too playful. Drug dogs must follow one command at a time, and Roger just wanted to constantly get ahead of his handler's commands.

Therefore, he was switched to search-and-rescue dog training.

For his hard work, the mayor of Hualien City rewarded Roger with an ice cream cone. Roger is an eight-year-old yellow labrador who will retire in about five months. He is one of four search-and-rescue dogs used by Kaohsiung Special Search and Rescue.

Roger was only one when he worked his first search-and-rescue job. It was the 2018 earthquake that hit Taiwan. Since then, he has worked on six other missions.

Roger found a person alive about five minutes after arriving in Taroko National Park. His handler praised him and gave him a toy, which he promptly destroyed before starting to look for more people. Roger is not trained to find dead people. Instead, he is trained to find people who are alive.

Wilson follows in Roger's footsteps. The devastating earthquake was his first mission. Wilson is a Jack Russell terrier. Wilson did not perform very well on tests given to him before the earthquake.

Like Roger, he needed help paying attention to the task at hand. Instead, he wanted to run off and play. Wilson found two victims while on a site near Taroko National Park.

The dogs' job may not be complete yet. After a press conference, where Roger tried to eat a reporter's microphone, and some well-deserved rest, the dogs will return to Shakadang Trail to continue searching as more people are missing.


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