Ever since heavy rains triggered catastrophic mudslides in Montecito, California last week, first responders have been working tirelessly around the clock trying to find those who are still unaccounted for. We couldn’t help but notice some of the four-legged heroes of this horrific event while watching while watching Oprah’s Instagram updates chronicling the heartbreaking devastation of her neighborhood — dedicated furry companions have also been helping with the search-and-rescue efforts.
Wading through deep mud and climbing through rubble and debris, the dogs have been working 12-hour shifts trying to locate any scents that can help lead responders to people who may still be trapped in collapsed homes. Jester is just one of the dogs aiding with the searches; he was left at a shelter by his previous owners and was set to be euthanized before he was scooped up by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, a non-profit that rescues shelter dogs and trains them for disaster work. Once trained, Jester was given to the Orange County Fire Authority free of charge and now works with Captain Davis Doty during disasters such as this. “We spend hours every day together, bonding and training. He’s great,” says Doty.
On Wednesday, four new dogs from the California Rescue Dog Association arrived in Montecito ready to work and give the other dogs a much-needed break. After each shift, the dogs and the rescue teams must go to a rinse-off station where they are scrubbed down to reduce any exposure to hazardous materials which may have ended up in the mud. There are also veterinarians stationed nearby who assess the pooches for any possible injuries.
We are in awe of these dogs and the rest of the search-and-rescue teams who are on the frontlines. Even if you live far away, there are still ways to help the victims and help animals in light of such tragedies. Our hearts go out to everyone in Montecito.
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