A yellow lab is saving lives in Mexico, helping recover people the human rescuers can’t get to after a devastating earthquake.
The world is rejoicing after seeing posts and pictures of Frida, a 7-year old Yellow Lab who gears up in goggles and a uniform to go find people in need of rescue.
On September 19th, Mexico suffered a devastating 7.1 earthquake, which killed and injured many. Since then, rescue efforts have been underway to locate people who are trapped in small spaces and under large objects.
A Dangerous Occupation
Frida works with 14 other canines in the Mexican Navy’s SEMAR Canine Unit. In her career there prior to the earthquake, she had rescued 12 people and helped recover the bodies of 40 more. In this rescue effort, she has located 12 victims of the earthquake to date.
Her main mission just after the earthquake occurred was to locate survivors at the Enrique Rebsamen School in Mexico City. There, the team found 11 children alive. Tragically, there were 6 adults and 19 children who perished.
During that effort, Frida worked so hard that she suffered exhaustion and dehydration. But her handler, Israel Arauz Salinas, helped her nap and gave her water with lots of electrolytes. The following day, she had recovered and was ready to get back in action saving lives.
Frida dons goggles and booties to protect her eyes and feet from all the dangerous debris.
Because Frida is aging, she works closely with two one-year old dogs named Evil and Echo. These spry young pups will enter a collapsed building before her; if they find someone, Frida then enters to show them how to do the work. For her safety, she spends no longer than 20 minutes inside the building.
The role of these rescue dogs is to reach people who are in spaces too small for humans to access. When they locate a victim who is still alive, the dogs bark to alert the human rescue workers. When they find a victim who has passed away, they stop and approach the body slowly. This indicates to the human rescuers that the person is no longer living.
How It All Began
Frida began training at the young age of two months, which is standard procedure for these dogs. During training, the skills exhibited by each dog determine whether they will graduate to detect narcotics, explosives, or people.
Training is rigorous and detailed. It begins with simple fetch; at first, the dogs are taught to simply fetch balls and toys. Next, the trainer will run with that toy or ball in their hand, and this helps the dog associate the small of the person with the reward of the toy.
Before being dispatched to official rescue efforts, these dogs train for 3 hours per day for an entire year. So, they become total experts at what they do.
A Never Ending Job
2 weeks prior to the September 19th earthquake, Frida located the body of a police officer when an enormous 8.1 earthquake his Juchitan de Zaragoza. She also assisted in Ecuador in April 2016 when an earthquake hit there as well.
Frida has gotten the attention of some important people; the President of Mexico tweeted about her heroic deeds, saying, “She is @Frida, belongs to the #SEMAR_mx and has helped save 52 lives in various natural disasters at the national and international levels” in a recent tweet.
The rescue and cleanup efforts in Mexico are ongoing. If you are interested in helping Mexico in this great time of need, please click here.