They work all year long, train two to three times a week and are part of the volunteers of the Search and Rescue Unit (USAR) of the Mexican Red Cros, Yucatan Delegation, their names are Elliot, Dusty and Megan.
They train to save lives, whether in water or collapsed buildings, these dogs are constantly training, because they must be ready for any incident, “since the life of a person could depend on them,” says the canine trainer and a paramedic by profession, Melchor Paredes Balanzario, who belongs to the non-profit institution since 2013.
Elliot is an eight-year old Belgian shepherd whohas been a fundamental part of the Red Cross State Delegation for quite a few years now. He is always working, either with the Volunteer Ladies who visit the schools, during the National Red Cross Collection or in search and rescue services in accidents statewide.
“For a dog to be operational in this work field, it is necessary that the handler and canine are both certified by international organizations for rescue dogs, such as IRO (for its acronym in English). The K-9 Unit (canine and handler) needs to be instructed in different skills, such as obedience, search of diverse objects, search for people by reference of smell and rescue in water, these certification courses are carried out in different states or even abroad ”, added Paredes Balanzario.
Dusty is a Border Collie specialized in water rescue, most of his training is being done in Yucatecan beaches. And Megan, who is only one year-old, is just beginning her training to become a talented K-9 agent in the near future, so she can replace Elliot, who will “retire” soon, because of his age.
All three dogs require specific care, such as a special diet, since they need to maintain a high performance level at all times, they must be in optimal condition because every month they undergo medical check-ups, and physical tests, that they need to approve in order not to lose their health certificate and be able to travel at anytime it is required, and get the job done.
The K-9 agents of the Mexican Red Cross have a goal: to save lives, at the same time they raise awareness about the importance of helping others, and as a reward, they receive the love of those who care for them.