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DC's Badass Rescue Dogs Will Save You Anywhere, Anytime - Source Washingtonian

Posted on Mar 21,2017
Filed Under Pets , Community,

Charlotte Grove and Etta train on a mock collapsed building in Lorton. Photograph by Linda Davidson/Washington Post

Source Washingtonian

By Melanie D.G. Kaplan

WASHINGTON, DC. - In 1985, an earthquake struck Mexico City. It registered 8.1 on the Richter scale and killed at least 5,000 people. But one of its less dramatic effects lives on 32 years later in Washington: Fairfax County Fire and Rescue’s Virginia Task Force 1, the nation’s largest canine search-and-rescue team.

The team’s origins date to the quake’s chaotic aftermath. The deficient response led the US Agency for International Development to look for new ways to aid survivors of future disasters. USAID asked Fairfax to help because of the county’s expertise in canine rescue and its proximity to the federal government. It’s also one of only two teams in the country certified by the United Nations.

Funded by USAID and Federal Emergency Management Agency grants, the team has grown to include—in addition to firefighters, doctors, and other personnel— 23 dogs. Etta, a five-year-old Belgian Malinois, is among them. One day in December, I visited the former Lorton prison where she now trains. I watched her skip gracefully over a gigantic pile of broken concrete and mangled rebar that resembled a collapsed building. Before I could even switch my camera to video mode, she was barking frantically, alerting us to a person beneath the debris. After “rescuing” one of the dogs’ handlers, she was rewarded with a tug toy.

Source Washingtonian

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