Mexican rescue teams in Turkey came together to mourn and honor rescue dog Proteo on Sunday. Proteo, a German shepherd dog, died on Friday while on duty in the town of Adiyaman in Turkey, the Mexican army said.
“We gather here today to thank Proteo, a Mexican army service, search and rescue dog who sadly died during this mission,” Marco Franco, coordinator of the Mexican Red Cross, said.
During the ceremony, army and navy teams and the Red Cross thanked Proteo for his service. The event finished with a duty call of all the Mexican rescue dogs who were present in Turkey and Proteo’s name followed by the word ‘Present’.
Proteo was one of sixteen Mexican dogs that travelled to Turkey to support the rescue efforts after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed
more than 41,000 people and an unknown number of animals in Turkey and Syria.
According to local media, Proteo assisted in locating two live earthquake victims during his stay in Turkey.
In an emotional message, his handler, soldier Carlos Villeda Márquez, said Proteo was a strong and hard-working dog: “I want to tell you that I am proud of you, because you were always a strong dog, a hard-working dog, who never gave up.”
“Now, I just want to thank you for coming with me. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to return with me. I will always remember you. All of Mexico, I hope that they always remember you and never forget you. Someday we will see each other again,” Villeda added.
Villeda explained that Proteo’s death was mostly caused by the extremely cold weather in Turkey, and the long trip from Mexico to the disaster area.
Rescue and search dogs play a critical role in earthquake response efforts. These specially trained dogs can help locate and rescue people trapped under debris after an earthquake.
They are trained to use their sense of smell to detect the scent of human survivors and can locate people even in tight spaces or under layers of rubble. They are also trained to bark or signal to their handlers to alert them to the location of a survivor.
The dogs work closely with their handlers and are often outfitted with protective gear to keep them safe while working in dangerous environments. Proteo’s death is a tragic reminder of the many risks that search and rescue dogs face while carrying out their duties.