By Olivia Kingree
Rescue dogs are working to sniff out bodies buried under the remains of buildings hit by two major earthquakes in central and southern Mexico.
On September 8, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake killed over 90 people in the country’s southern coast. Less than two weeks later, a second, 7.1 magnitude earthquake caused extensive damage in Mexico City. More than forty buildings in Mexico City have collapsed since the first tremor hit on September 19. Over 300 people have died and over 4,600 were injured in the Central Mexico Earthquake.
Collapsed buildings left people trapped and buried for days or weeks in Mexico City and along the southern coast. Now, volunteers and dog handlers diligently scour the wreckage at both locations, rescuing survivors and recovering bodies.
In an article published on September 23, Time Magazine profiled one hard-working Labrador Retriever named Frida, who has become a national hero in Mexico. Frida looks like any lab that could be found playing fetch in a backyard, save for her protective goggles, vest and shoes. Yet unlike a pet dog, she has an important and life-saving job.
Owned by the Mexican Navy, Frida is a trained sniffing dog who works alongside handlers and soldiers. After the first earthquake hit Mexico earlier this month, Frida searched through collapsed buildings in the Mexican state of Oaxaca and located the body of a Juchitan police officer. Now, she and 14 other dogs continue to sniff for bodies in Mexico City. In her lifetime, Frida has rescued 12 people and detected 52 bodies.
In Mexico, the rescue dogs are now national heroes who serve as a brave image of hope and rebuilding. According to Time, some Mexican citizens called for a new design of the 500-peso note–one that features a photo of Frida in action, wearing protective goggles and vest.
“Twnpns,” a Mexican brand, recently debuted a new set of pins featuring Frida and the rest of the “Paw Squad,” according to a September 26, 2017 article published by People Magazine. They will donate 100% of their proceeds to the Mexican Red Cross in support of earthquake relief.
Two students at Drew University, Genevieve Windbiel (‘20), and Jordan Aussicker (‘20), had not yet heard of the rescue dog’s efforts, but reacted positively after learning about their progress. Aussicker (20’) said that what makes the dogs such a “beautiful” symbol is their representation of the fact that even with “little help from their neighbors,” Mexico was able to “pick their nation out of the rubble.”