The earthquake in Ecuador has claimed a life other than its 650 human victims. A search and rescue dog named Dayko succumbed to heat stroke followed by a heart attack after saving the lives of seven people who were trapped in the rubble.
The earthquake, which jarred the resort town of Pedernales on Saturday, April 16, was measured at a devastating 7.6 magnitude. Volunteers are offering relief from around the globe in efforts to supply medical care, food, and water, and help find survivors amid the collapsed landscape.
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Dayko, a 4-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, and his handler Alex were part of the Ibara fire service.
The dog had earned awards after working in several areas, including Ibarra and Pedernales, and received national and international certifications during his three-and-a-half years of service with the team, the Daily Mail reported.
Dayko had spent several days searching through the collapsed wreckage, locating seven victims before he collapsed on Friday from heat exhaustion and dehydration.
Efforts to revive the dog failed. The cause of death was listed as, “massive coronary myocardial infarction and acute respiratory failure.”
The fire crew published an emotional tribute on their Facebook page.
“We regret to inform you that today the [fire service] is in mourning because [we] just lost Dayko who participated in the work of searching in Pedernales, the dog with national and international certifications, passed away in hours In the morning [sic].”
“This four legged friend gave his life in the line of duty. Thank you Dayko for your heroic efforts in Pedernales and in various emergencies where you were present.”
“You held high the name of the K9 unit.”
More than 2,000 people were injured in the earthquake, which knocked out power along the Pacific coastline and tore up roads and buildings.
Around 500 specialists from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Peru, Spain, Switzerland, the U.S., and Venezuela have combined efforts to help local fire brigades and special forces.
The National Review shared part of an essay by Jonah Goldberg about rescue dogs.
“…Locating the dead and searching (too often in vain) for the living is obviously an arduous and emotionally draining task for human beings, but it is no picnic for dogs either.”
“The rubble provided unstable footing, was full of glass shards and twisted metal, and sometimes glowed red hot. Dangerous fumes, loud noises, and the equivalent of landslides were constant sources of distraction and peril.”
“Dogs repeatedly had to limp out of the wreckage on bloody paws, the razor-edged debris slicing through even the leather boots distributed to some of them.”
“Worse, the stress associated with not finding survivors was extreme; dogs tasked with this assignment expect — need — to find survivors. ‘They don’t like to find bodies. They’ll find them, but they don’t feel rewarded,’ veterinarian Douglas Wyler explained to the London Daily Telegraph.”
“‘The dogs are good, they’re professionals, but like any professional they can suffer from melancholy and depression. It’s hard for the men not to find anyone alive, and the dogs sense that.’”
NPR describes the scene in Ecuador as one of urgency, and rescuers are truly racing against the clock. The more hours that tick by, the less chance there are of finding survivors, plus the greater risk of experiencing an aftershock.
“In the port city of Manta, a group of about 50 rescuers working with sniffer dogs, hydraulic jacks and a drill managed to free eight people trapped for more than 32 hours in the rubble of a shopping center that was flattened by Saturday night’s quake.”
One rescue worker, Juan Carranza, told Associated Press on Monday that he had worked on only two hours of sleep since the quake hit on Saturday.
The dogs work long hours, too, as demonstrated by poor Dayko, and are instrumental in sniffing out survivors in ways no human ever could. Search and rescue dogs are trained rigorously for the job, as demonstrated in this video, but searching comes naturally to many of them.
Dayko was given an honorable send-off ceremony by his team, their Facebook page said.
[Image via Marcella Miriello/Shutterstock.com]