Search and Rescue Dogs Helping to Find Earthquake Survivors in Turkey

10 March 2023

In the current earthquake crises in Turkey and Syria, dogs are playing a crucial role in search and rescue efforts. Specially trained dogs called search and rescue (SAR) dogs are being used to locate people who are trapped under rubble or debris. These dogs are trained to use their sense of smell to locate human scent even under the most challenging conditions, such as in collapsed buildings.

In this highly dangerous situation, dogs have been able to go into small places that people cannot and their assistance in the current crisis is proving invaluable to finding survivors and casualties under the rubble.

Firstpost has reported that countries such as the UK, India, Mexico, Germany and Switzerland have dispatched search and rescue teams including special trained dogs to help with the rescue operations. According to a report by Al Jazeera, a K9 volunteer team from Switzerland has so far helped local search teams in Turkey to locate and rescue 39 people still alive.

Paddington Pups are helping to provide emergency relief support for the Turkey earthquake directly through our giving program, B1G1. Contributions to this project are forwarded to Direct Relief to provide support for urgent search and rescue efforts and medical support to as many families in Turkey as possible. Direct Relief is a disaster relief organisation focused on supporting search and rescue efforts and is providing financial aid to AKUT, Turkey’s leading search and rescue team, with over 400 staff and volunteers.

Click here for further information about this project.

How do SAR dogs help in earthquake and natural disaster missions?

During rescue operations, SAR dogs work alongside their handlers and other rescue workers to search for survivors. The dogs wear protective gear to keep them safe from hazards such as sharp objects and broken glass. Once the dogs get a scent of a live casualty, they signal to their handlers by barking or scratching at the location. The rescue workers can then use specialised equipment to extract the person from the rubble.

SAR dogs have proven to be highly effective in search and rescue operations following earthquakes and other disasters. They can cover large areas quickly and efficiently, and their sense of smell allows them to detect people who may be difficult to locate using other methods. Additionally, their presence can also provide emotional support to those affected by the disaster.

What types of dog breeds are used as SAR dogs?

Commonly used breeds of dogs used as SAR dogs include German Shepherds, Labradors and Golden Retrievers and Border Collies. These breeds are generally selected for their strong sense of smell, their intelligence, and their ability to work well in different environments. However, other breeds can also be trained for search and rescue missions depending on their individual characteristics and abilities.

What other fields do working dogs provide assistance in?

Working dogs are amazing animals who play an essential role in various fields and provide assistance to humans in numerous ways. As well as search and rescue, they also work in fields such as termite protection, truffle finding, law enforcement, customs and border control and assistance dogs for individuals with disabilities such as guide dogs for the visually impaired, hearing dogs for the hearing impaired, and mobility assistance dogs for those with physical disabilities.

Working dogs are typically trained from a young age to perform specific tasks in the above-mentioned fields, and many of them are bred specifically for their job. As a result, working dogs often have a natural inclination and desire to perform their tasks, and they may find enjoyment and satisfaction in their work. However, working dogs may experience stress or burnout if they are overworked or if their working environments are not ideal, so it’s important to ensure they are provided with proper training, care, and work conditions, as well as the encouragement, support, love and affection they need to ensure their well-being and happiness on the job.


Dogs are vital members of disaster response teams and provide invaluable support in helping to save lives, but they are often the unsung heroes of earthquake and natural disaster operations. The dogs currently in Turkey and Syria have been working tirelessly with their teams to find survivors. Unfortunately, like humans, dogs often get injured or die in the line of duty and their contribution to natural disaster recovery efforts such as this truly is a selfless one.

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