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Rescue dog Roger captures hearts of people in search for quake victims

04/09/2024 09:26 PM
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Roger's early photos. Photo courtesy of Kaohsiung City Government Fire Bureau
Roger's early photos. Photo courtesy of Kaohsiung City Government Fire Bureau

Kaohsiung, April 9 (CNA) A Labrador retriever named Roger has captured the hearts of people in Taiwan after it recently helped locate the body of an individual killed while hiking the Shakadang Trail following a magnitude 7.2 temblor that struck off Taiwan's eastern coast on April 3.

The 8-year-old canine is a ranking officer who has served with the Kaohsiung Fire Bureau for the past five years, search and rescue team leader Chen Chih-san (陳志三) said Tuesday.

When still a pup, Roger was originally trained at the Customs Administration's Detector Dog Breeding & Training Center in Taichung as a drug-sniffing dog, Chen said.

However, he failed to make the cut because of his playful nature and difficulty in obeying "one command, one action," as a result of which he was switched to search-and-rescue work, he added.

In contrast, Roger's nature makes him a perfect search and rescue dog, Chen said, adding that the canine went on his first mission in 2018 to search for survivors at the Yun Men Tsui Ti residential and commercial complex in Hualien following a magnitude 6 earthquake.

Over the past four years Roger has taken part in seven search and rescue missions, including the most recent one at Taroko National Park's Shakadang Trail, Chen added.

According to the Kaohsiung official, over 60 percent of search-and-rescue dogs in Taiwan are Labrador retrievers, with the rest being other breeds including German Shepherds, Belgian Shepherds and Jack Russell Terriers.

Video: Kaohsiung City Government Fire Bureau

The Kaohsiung search and rescue team has 11 canines, of which six, including Roger, have passed the International Search and Rescue Dog Organization's (IRO) advanced rubble search certification, Chen said.

Three pups are currently still under training, while other two dogs have already received IRO certification, he added.

Considering Roger's age, Chen said his duties are to be adjusted according to his physical condition, and he could be transferred from the frontline and remain on standby.

Under the Animal Protection Act and the Kaohsiung Fire Bureau's protocols on search-and-rescue dogs, Chen said Roger must be retired when he reaches the age of 9, when the bureau will find him a good adoptive home.

The soon-to-retire dog became a media sensation during an interview with his handler last week when he unexpectedly lunged forward and briefly gnawed at reporters' microphones.

(By Chang Yi-lien and Ko Lin)

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