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Dogs trained for earthquake duty


Five dogs from a rescue centre in the Scottish Borders have been sent to Turkey to assist emergency services involved in earthquake drills.

The animals, from the Arthurshiels dog shelter, in St Boswells, will be trained as part of a response team working to locate people under rubble.

Seismologists said that a huge quake is predicted to strike the area soon.

Four Border Collies and a Larador have travelled from the shelter, with more dogs due to follow later this year.

Tom Middlemas, who runs the animal rescue centre, was contacted by Turkey's civil defence unit after being recommended by the German Red Cross. The 57-year-old has specialised training in search and rescue and has travelled the world helping emergency teams.

He said: ‘The last major earthquake in Turkey was in 1999 and they are expecting another soon. Border Collies are extremely quick to learn and so are very well suited to search and rescue work.
‘The dogs are vital for helping to detect people trapped under rubble. They can sniff out a human being trapped under thousands of tonnes of rubble when a machine can't.’

Mr Middlemas said the dogs were donated to the shelter by local people and farmers who were keen to see them carry out the essential work.

The puppies are currently being trained by the teams to help with the after-effects of a quake around Istanbul.

He added: ‘The dogs are invaluable. It is essential that the dog can get to areas affected by earthquakes in the first 12 to 24 hours to make sure lives are saved.’