A devastating earthquake in the Middle East has left thousands feared dead, many buried in rubble with little hope of rescue.
But help is on the way in the form of several search and rescue teams trained in Southern California.
Seven canine disaster teams have deployed to Turkey to aid in the search for those buried in the rubble from this week’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake.
The teams, comprised of a dog and searcher duo, arrived in Turkey Wednesday morning.
Six of the teams deployed come from the Los Angeles County Fire Department, and the seventh comes from Fairfax County Fire and Rescue in Virginia.
All the teams were trained locally at the nonprofit organization Search Dog Foundation in Santa Paula.
“Canine disaster search teams trained by SDF have deployed alongside rescue teams from around the world in response to the earthquake and we send our deepest gratitude to all the two- and four-legged rescuers that answered the call for help,” the organization said in a news release.
Search Dog Foundation rescues dogs from shelters across the country and puts them through a rigorous nine- to ten-month course to develop and hone their skills and turn them into one of the best disaster resources available.
The organization searches for dogs that demonstrate high energy and tenacity that may make them too much to handle for inexperienced owners, but perfect fits as canine rescuers.
The dogs are trained and then handed over to various fire departments across the globe, free of charge. And the organization also provides lifetime care for each dog that graduates the program.
In total, there are 78 teams across North America from Baja California to New York.
Search Dog Foundation is currently training the next generation of rescue dogs with 25 currently enrolled in the training program.
“The countless hours of training that have gone into preparing these teams for this moment would not be possible without people like you who believe in the power of rescue to help save lives—both human and canine,” the organization said in an email to its supporters.