SAR success thanks to canines

KUALA LUMPUR: Tracker dogs from the Fire and Rescue Department located the bodies of almost half the victims who died during the landslide in Batang Kali last December.

K9 Unit Senior Fire Officer II R. Chandran said these dogs saved time and reduced the scope of the search for the victims.

“About 50% of the victims in the landslide were found with the help of tracker dogs,” he told Bernama.

The landslide at the organic farm on Dec 16 claimed 31 lives, 13 of them children. Another 61 survived.

Chandran said the role of these dogs during rescues cannot be overstated.

“When we use the service of tracker dogs, we can reduce the digging in such a search and rescue operation. These dogs play an important role,” he said.

He said dog handlers in the K9 Unit need a lot of patience to manage, train and ensure their animals are well cared for.

“Dogs are like young children. When they misbehave, we have to be patient. We should not beat them but care for them and be friends with them, then a close bond will be forged and will facilitate search and rescue (SAR) operations, like in the case of the landslide at the Father’s Organic Farm in Batang Kali,” he added.

K9 Unit Senior Asst Supt H. Pramnath said the handlers at the K9 Unit were important assets because of their experience in handling their dogs.

The handlers can read what is in the dog’s mind, he said.

“This shows the closeness of the bond between the tracker dogs and their handlers,” he added.

He said the tracker dogs are also sent for health checks regularly to ensure that they are always in good health and at their best performance in carrying out their tasks.

Before these tracker dogs are taken out for SAR operations, he said, the Veterinary Department will assess their health level in terms of their fitness.

He said the dogs will be examined again after these operations.

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