Search and Rescue Dogs Saving Lives After Earthquake in Italy

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
Dogs are so much more than lovable companions. These brave search and rescue dogs are going above the call of duty by helping in the aftermath of the big earthquake in Italy.

You may have read of the devastation from a 6.2 magnitude earthquake that shook Italy to its core. Leaving destruction all over the city as its aftermath, this quake has left the citizens of Italy and all over the country shaken, literally, as it recovers.

And while the devastation is broad and wide, with over 287 confirmed dead, and sadly, still more to go…there is heroism and self-sacrifice to be told of.

One such story involves a sweet little eight-year-old girl named Giorgia. Giorgia was sadly buried under rubble in her small village of Pescara del Tronto home for at least 16 hours.

Imagine that. Sixteen HOURS buried…alive.

Rescue crews were frantically trying to find and save anyone they could, and in Giorgia’s town, a dedicated four-and-a-half year-old labrador retriever named Leo joined in the rescue efforts, and eventually saved Giorgia.

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According to two Italian officers, Officers Matteo and Liborio,”Yesterday we were given the information that under a two-story collapsed house in Pescara del Tronto there were two missing girls. Immediately we went to the location and Leo, in less than 40 seconds, gave us a strong signal. With our colleagues from the Reparto Mobile Senigallia and the firemen, we dug with our bare hands for nine hours, and at the end we were able to find the girl.”

Though Giorgia’s survival is miraculous, it is not without heartache. Her 10-year-old sister’s body was found, lifeless beside her, seemingly protecting Giorgia. That Leo was able to detect Giorgia in the rubble, after nearly 17 hours of being buried alive, and alert the officers to help her was miraculous.

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Joining his canine brother in arms, another dog, a German Shepherd named Sarotti, was essential to the rescue of a 10-year-old girl who was also buried for hours in the rubble. Sarotti indicated there was life in a pile of rubble, and officers were able to find the girl after they spotted her pajamas, and then were able to dig her out and save her.

In Accumoli, another town not too far from where Sarotti works, another Labrador Retriever, Klaus, was hard at work, sniffing piles of rubble desperately as he looked for signs of life. Klaus is now 7-years-old, and has been doing rescue work since he was a puppy.

In other areas of Italy, search and rescue dogs are being shipped in to help the efforts. Two Belgian Malinois Shepherds, Ax and Babi, were flown in to devastated areas, sniffing between heaps of demolished terra cotta, brick, wood and concrete. The dogs would signal where a live human smell was still present. Said veterinarian and member of the Alpine Rescue national service, Paolo Cortelli, “The dogs detect the odor of the living. The dead have a totally different smell, but they retain some of the smell of the living for a few hours,” said Cortelli.

And while that is heartbreaking to even imagine or read, we are thankful for these many selfless dogs who are making such a difference in the light of such great destruction and damage.

We’ve always known dog was man’s best friend, but these brave animals really prove it.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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