How Dogs Are Making a Difference After Hurricane Irma

The Nose Knows How To Save Lives!

Search and rescue dog standing with handler waiting to board plane
pc: Lance Cpl. Luis Rodriguez

It’s been a RUFF month for the Southern United States, Mexico, and Caribbean Islands. Recent hurricanes and earthquakes have left millions of people struggling and caused significant damage. As folks ban together to help those affected by these disasters, they’re also joined by a special group of dogs.

Four search and rescue dogs sit in front of handlers ready for action
pc: KTLA 5 News

Dogs trained in search and rescue are a valuable part in tracking and locating missing people after disasters. Dogs can smell 100,000 times better than humans and can even scent things up to 40 feet underground. By following human scent, these dogs find lost or trapped people and alert their handlers.

SAR dog races up a pile of rubble
pc: The Times

Why use dogs over something else or a man-made machine?

“If you can’t find people, you can’t rescue them. No technology can match a dog’s speed and accuracy in finding people trapped in the wreckage of a disaster, thanks to its:

  • Remarkable sense of smell and ability to ignore all other scents and noises – even tempting traces of food or other animals or people involved in the search
  • Unparalleled ability to quickly and safely navigate unstable and slippery terrain -a 4-wheel drive on paws!
  • Ability to negotiate dangerous surfaces while keeping absolutely focused on the job at hand: saving a life
  • Ability to work off-leash and get to places humans cannot safely access” — National Disaster Search Dog Foundation


German Shepherd Dog hops over rubble
pc: International Dog Trainer School

Dogs can be trained to search for people in many types of situations including:

  • Wilderness
  • Urban Tracking
  • Natural Disasters
  • Avalanches

It takes a lot of time, dedication, and training for these special dogs and their handlers to be ready to aid search and rescue teams when disaster strikes. These hero dogs help find the lost and missing and save lives.

View from inside a snow cave with SAR team and dog outside looking in
pc: Fox Grove Tollers

Want to engage your pups natural hunting and searching instincts?

Grab a dog puzzle to engage your dog’s mind and nose as they hunt and work to find and free the treat rewards. They may not be saving lives, but they’ll at least be having some pawsome fun.

Jack Russell Terrier paws at Outward Hound Dog Tornado puzzle toy
Paw & hunt for treat rewards

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