Sniffer Dogs Essential to Recovery in Grenfell Tower Devastation
When the 24-story Grenfell Tower fell in flames, the world watched with bated breath, desperately hoping for victims to be found and survive. Many said it just went up like a matchstick, and dozens are missing still.
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Urban search and rescue specialist teams have been coming what they can of the building, as they work to find victims and make the area safe for investigations to carry on. Emergency services now include a special unit of personnel–dog sniffers who are trained to find the remains of those who died in the fiery blaze.
The dogs wear special shoes designed to protect their paw pads from the dangers of the debris and scorching heats, and are trained to sniff out the remains of victims as well as to alert investigators about the potential damage that may come from explosive materials.
Because they are smaller and lighter than humans, they can get to places in the debris that humans cannot, and this is important as there are still many days ahead of the investigation. Many of the top floors of the building have not been searched yet, and the dogs will have much to go through as they work.
London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton says that much of the work that needs to be done will have to be done internally, but they will use the dogs to go through before and look for any people or potential dangers beforehand. Saying it would be a miracle to still find anyone alive in the horrific remains, the dogs still look intently, using their impeccable sense of smell to find whatever they can.
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So far police have confirmed that 58 people are still missing (and presumed dead) but assert that the dogs may find the remains of more that will make that number rise. The dogs have been trained from an early age to do this work, and when not on duty, they live with their emergency personnel handlers.
One of the survivors of the fire was a tiny kitten, rescued after presumably separated from his owners in the tower. His name is Paucho, and he is now known as the Grenfell Tower Cat to all who have fallen in love with these special animal heroes. Paucho is being taken care of by volunteers at the nearby St. Clement’s Church, while Battersea Cats and Dogs shelter has offered to care for any other animals found and displaced from the fire.
More by Lori Ennis