Among the rubble of the Mexican city of Querétaro, the legs of Balam, Orly, Robinson and Rocky stand out, four rescue dogs that receive training from Edgar Martínez, canine guide of the Mexican Red Cross, a task that is gaining popularity in the country shaken by earthquakes.
Balam and Orly are the best-known canines, as they are the ones who shared their first training sessions with Athos, the rescue dog who lost his life in 2021 after being poisoned and who today pay the greatest possible tribute: follow in his footsteps in the search and rescue of people.
The earthquake in Turkey that occurred last February was their first participation in a natural disaster and today they continue their training while guiding the steps of other dogs who are preparing to be rescue dogs in various corporations.
The ruined building used to be a nightclub in its best years, however, for this rescue team it became the ideal place to replicate what is experienced in a real search scenario.
Edgar, one of the young trainers helping the team, hides under sheet metal and other debris at the site, while Balam, who was involved in the work in Turkey, is removed from the scene so he can’t find out where the gun is hidden. young.
Once the dog is brought to the location, he runs all over the space, sniffing and searching, until he finds the place, where he stops and begins to bark to indicate that he has found someone, at the same time he tries to move the sheets to try to discover Edgar, who gives him the indication that he did a good job and hands him a ball.
“We call it a ‘dump’, it is a simulation of a demolished building as it happens in an earthquake, so basically everything is simulated here, sheets, unstable situations, pointed things are simulated,” Martínez explained to EFE.
The idea, he said, is to simulate when a person is under the rubble so that the dog can rehearse what would happen in a natural disaster like an earthquake.
Rocky and Robinson are the other two dogs that accompany the group, they are guided by Orly and Balam, the latter is the son of Athos, who became relevant in Mexico in 2022, since his death by poisoning marked history by causing the first criminal trial against animal abuse and sentenced the culprit to more than 10 years in prison.
Balam and Orly, who in Türkiye rescued four people alive and 36 dead, Today they are in charge of guiding the steps of the new dogs that in a few years may be ready to join these and other tasks.
“We also use them a lot to raise awareness among the generations that come with the issue of animal rescue, which is something very important,” said Martínez.
Rescue dogs demand daily training, even if they are near or far from a real scenario, they must keep ready for the call that can be given at any time in any part of the world; however, training goes beyond rescues, as socialization is just as important.
That is why if the dog is not among the rubble, it does other types of work such as going to public squares and exhibitions so that people can interact with them, “so that they always remain friendly,” he explained.
Just a few weeks after arriving from Turkey, Edgar and his team left for Copacabana to certify four dogs that were trained by them and later delivered to the San Juan del Río Fire Department, in Querétaro.
Today, the team is preparing again to leave in the next few days for Guatemala where they will support the national canine unit so that they can select some dogs that will be sent, after training, for certification.