May 27, 2024


April 21, 2024 4:00 p.m.

Saxony’s rescue dog team rehearses for hours every week in preparation for emergency situations. They’re looking for the elderly, the confused, and children. The importance of their volunteer work was demonstrated on Easter Sunday. A five-year-old boy went missing in Amselsee, Saxony, Switzerland, and was found nine hours later in a dangerous position by the dog Blair. Days like this are not missed by emergency teams. MDR SACHSEN accompanied the DRK dog team in Leipzig to a training session.

Written by Philipp Brendel, MDR Saxony

Two women lie peacefully on a blanket in the middle of the forest near Grimma. One of them is wearing a vest with the words “Rescue Dog Company – German Red Cross” written on it. I hear a bell ringing in the distance. At first it sounds faint, then it becomes clearer. A dog suddenly appears through the tall grass. He sat next to the two women and barked loudly. “Great job,” exclaims Pascal Schumann of the DRK rescue dog team in Leipzig.

During training, the rescue dogs have to find people “hiding” in the forest.
Photo credit: MDR/Philip Brendel

Pascal Schumann trains dog trainers and their dogs for future rescue missions. During training, four-legged friends must find “hidden” people in the forest. “The dogs are sent tactically through the forest to find the scent of the missing person from every corner of the search area,” explains the 33-year-old. When the dog finds the person it is looking for, it will sit next to the person and bark loudly.

There are seven rescue dog teams in DRK Saxony. Dog trainers work independently.
Photo credit: MDR/Adam Bayer

Up to 8 hours of training sessions each week

Once a week, the Leipzig DRK dog team rehearses for eight hours in preparation for their next rescue mission. In emergencies, we search not only for missing people, such as the elderly, deranged, and suicidal, but also for children in areas that are difficult to reach.

The German Red Cross has seven rescue dog teams. Johanniter, ASB and the Federal Rescue Dog Association also have separate dog teams in Saxony. Dog trainers work independently and undergo two years of training. Dog teams from various organizations work together to search for missing people. These associations are affiliated with the Saxon Rescue Dog Association.

Search for 5-year-old Jonas in a rock in Saxony, Switzerland

Like five-year-old Jonas, who slipped into a crack in the Swiss canton of Saxony on Easter Sunday. A large search team and 16 rescue dogs were dispatched to search for the missing boy. Pascal Schumann and his search dog Blair found him in the dark in an inaccessible area nine hours after his parents reported him missing.

Pascal Schumann trains search dog Blair every week to ensure successful searches in emergencies.
Photo credit: MDR/Adam Bayer

We searched for about 15 to 20 minutes with our dog. Then I heard a voice of relief from Blair.

Pascal Schumann | Found the missing boy with his dog Blair

Pascal Schumann recalls: “There was a 50-meter-high rock on the left side of the ravine, and a 30-meter-high rock on the right side. I was running down the slope, and Blair was already running in front of me.” Blair the Malinois dog The nose was especially fast. “We searched with our dog for about 15 to 20 minutes, and then we heard Blair’s peaceful cries,” Schumann said with a smile. “For us, it was a great sign that he was still alive,” exclaimed young Jonas, who was startled by Blair’s bark.

Rescue dogs can relieve stress during training. This exercise is very taxing for both the dog and the owner.
Photo credit: MDR/Adam Bayer

Rescue team’s oppressive emotions

The operation began with an unpleasant aftertaste, recalls Philip Hauck. The 34-year-old and his dog Hailey searched the area near where Jonas was found. “It was very stressful, especially for people on the team who had children of their own,” said his father, who has a two-and-a-half-year-old son.

Philip Hauck explains that every search dog and his owner is important in a rescue operation. He was participating in the search for Jonas in Saxony, Switzerland.
Photo credit: MDR/Philip Brendel

It was especially oppressive for people on the team who had children of their own. I still have goosebumps today.

Philip Hawke | Dog handler at the DRK rescue dog team in Leipzig

Dog Squad is always looking for new helpers

Volunteer dog handlers and their quick sniffers are called on up to 50 missions a year. Therefore, they are always looking for new helpers. “We are looking for dog owners with animals under the age of three. Dogs need to be motivated with food and toys,” explains Schumann.

Dogs learn how to search for missing people in a playful way. If a “missing person” is found during training, the four-legged friend is rewarded with a toy or treat.
Photo credit: MDR/Adam Bayer

Chihuahua or pug? Pascal Schumann explains that not all dogs are suitable for searching. “The dog must be no smaller than a beagle and no larger than a rottweiler.” The animal must also be strong enough to search an area of ​​up to 120,000 square meters. Dogs could release stress during training. However, training sessions can be exhausting for both the animal and the owner. Even if you don’t own a dog, you are welcome to bring your dog along.

Dog owners aren’t the only ones who can participate in training. We are always looking for friends.
Photo credit: MDR/Adam Bayer

Get a feel for the training atmosphere

And perhaps some new blood will join the ranks soon. Alya Ilieva from Leipzig is training with her golden retriever Denver for the fourth time. She said, “My dog ​​likes to play and cooperate with people, and I wanted to do something nice for him, so I wanted to try it here.” says the 24-year-old dog. She and Denver are still at the starting point, but “we’re on the right track.”

Alya Ilieva and Denver are currently practicing fetch. Perhaps these two dogs will soon become part of the Leipzig DRK rescue dog team.
Photo credit: MDR/Adam Bayer

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