Durian and his dog, Baxter, will spend an indefinite amount of time in northern Japan, which was ravaged by a magnitude 8.9 earthquake and tsunami Friday that Japanese officials estimate could have killed more than 1,000 people.
"It's of the utmost importance right now to do all the rescue possible," said canine handler Marc Valentine, a Montebello Fire Department captain who also trains search-and-rescue dogs in Orange County. "In the first few minutes, other people come and rescue the ones they can hear crying for help. It's the people who are buried underneath debris and rubble that we're looking for. Fourteen days out, they were still finding people alive in Haiti."
Durian, who works for the Los Angeles County Fire Department, is part of Los Angeles Task Force 2, a 72-member emergency response team that is one of two nationwide authorized by the U.S. State Department to provide aide during international disasters. The team includes doctors, structural engineers, paramedics and firefighters, plus 75 tons of rescue supplies and equipment.
Durian and Baxter, a golden retriever, traveled to the disaster zone on a chartered flight along with Virginia Task Force 2, the other team charged with international disaster response, according to nonprofit National Disaster Search Dog Foundation.
Durian and Baxter were certified in canine search and rescue in 2007. In 2008, they were deployed to the Gulf Coast to search for survivors following hurricanes Gustav and Ike. They've also been deployed to several local disasters, including a major car accident in 2009, according to the Search Dog Foundation.
Baxter was discovered at a Northern California animal shelter in February 2006 by a Search Dog Foundation volunteer who saw potential in the canine."The first time the group of new handlers was introduced to the dogs in Baxter's graduating class, Baxter ran over to Gary Durian of the L.A. County Fire Department and lay down by him for a brief moment," the Search Dog Foundation said in a statement. "And the rest is history."
HOW TO HELP JAPAN’S PEOPLE & PETS
Relief organizations and governments around the world are responding to help people, and now several groups are stepping in to assist the animals impacted by the disaster as well. There are a number of ways for people here and abroad to help the people and pets that were hurt or displaced. Sacramento pet expert and author Gina Spadafori reported today on recommendations made by her colleague, veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker.
For those interested in doing so, Becker suggests contacting the following organizations:
World Vets is an international veterinary aid organization that provides “free veterinary aid, resources and support during times of disaster all over the world”. Their non-profit efforts spans 25 countries and 6 continents, and handles both veterinary issues and human health issues caused by animal-related infectious diseases.
World Vets is already working to help victims of the earthquake and tsunami, and desperately needs donations. To learn more, click here for their website.
The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation is a non-profit, FEMA-certified agency that searches for survivors in the wreckage of catastrophic events such as the one is Japan.
NDSDF has already deployed six Canine Disaster Search Teams to respond to the current crisis; each task force is made up of approximately 72 members (including both humans and Urban Search and Rescue dogs) and some 75 tons of rescue equipment. To learn more and to donate, click here for their website.