Taipei, Dec. 11 (CNA) A representative of the German Search and Rescue Dog Association that provided assistance to Taiwan in the wake of a deadly earthquake in 1999 was awarded Taiwan's Fire Service Medal in Munich on Tuesday.
In addition to receiving medal, the special representative Peter Göttert was made an honorary citizen of Taichung City, in recognition of his efforts as one of the team leaders from the German Search and Rescue Dog Association who sent a rescue team to work at the disaster sites after the quake and later helped establish a canine search and rescue operation in Taiwan.
The medal was presented by Hsu Tsong-ming (許聰明), Taiwan's top representative in Munich, on behalf of the National Fire Agency (NFA), according to a press release from Hsu's office. Göttert's honorary citizenship in Taichung also reflects the fact that the central Taiwan city is home to the first overseas branch of the German association, according to the press release.
On Sept. 21, 1999, a magnitude-7.3 earthquake struck central Taiwan, claiming some 2,400 lives and injuring 11,000 people, mainly in Jiji Township, Nantou County.
One year later, the National Fire Agency established its own canine search and rescue team, with the assistance of the German association.
In 2016, the association invited the NFA canine search and rescue team to attend a training session in Germany, and the next year, the association sent experts to Taiwan to train local rescue dogs and sign memorandums of understanding with the Taichung City government and Ministry of the Interior.
The association opened its first overseas branch office at the international NGO center in Taichung in 2018, with the aim of facilitating exchanges with its Taiwanese counterparts and others in the Asia Pacific region.
The association, known as the Bundesverband Rettungshunde in Germany, was founded in 1976 and is the oldest search and rescue organization of its kind in its home country. It has 2,300 members at 82 units nationwide and has trained more than 700 dogs that have passed the search and rescue test.