US Search Dog Teams Arrive in Japan

The devastation is hard to process. The photos and video footage from the quake-and-tsunami-ravaged northeast coast of Japan seem too horrific to be real. Some 10,000 people may have lost their lives as a result of the disasters.

And some may still be alive beneath the rubble. But how to find them before it’s too late? Man’s best friend to the rescue…

Yesterday six canine disaster search teams trained by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation arrived in Japan on another lifesaving mission. These heroic teams have been deployed to disasters around the world, helping find life in the midst of devastation and death.

These teams are extraordinary. The rescue dogs were all rescues themselves. They know how to scope out signs of life and hope better than any human, thanks at least in part to their incredible senses and the tremendous training provided by the foundation. There are currently 74 SDF-trained teams around the US.

The six teams that arrived in Japan yesterday were making their way to Ofunato City at last update. Once there, the dogs will get to work with their handlers.

“All rescue personnel will be awaiting a ‘Bark Alert’ from the dogs, letting them know there is someone in need of rescue. Everything the teams have learned during their intensive training will be put to use in saving lives,” says Janet Reineck, of the Search Dog Foundation. You can click here to see photos of the six teams.

We hope they can steer clear of any possible radiation leaks, and that soon there will be a whole lot of barking going on.

If you’d like to keep up with their efforts there foundation has a web page dedicated to updates. Or follow them on Twitter. You can also make a donation to this excellent organization on the same page. Or check them out on Facebook.

If you’d like other ways to help Japan’s human or animal victims, here are some suggestions:

The Japanese Red Cross Society is trying to get aid to the scene as quickly as possible. Yes, this is for the human victims, but if humans are alive, their pets will have someone to come home to. (The Google Crisis Response page that hosts this donation effort also features message boards, warning and alarm announcements, shelter information, and much more. Looking at it gives you kind of an inside idea of what’s going on there. There’s even a button to click if you are looking for someone, or have information on someone.)