Rescue workers and thousands of volunteers are not the only ones who have won hearts and minds for their heroic efforts in the search for survivors after Tuesday’s powerful earthquake.
Fifteen dogs from the navy’s canine unit have assisted this week in the rescue efforts at the sites of collapsed buildings across Mexico City, where more than 50 people have been pulled alive from the rubble.
Of the canine heroes none is more famous — or loved — than Frida, a six-year-old white Labrador who in her distinguished service has won acclaim for her ability to detect people who have been trapped by various natural disasters.
Over her illustrious career she has found 52 people including 12 survivors in Mexico and other Latin American countries.
This week, Frida and Evil and Echo — two Belgian Shepherds that have also been specially trained for rescue efforts — were deployed at the site of the collapsed Enrique Rébsamen school in southern Mexico City.
Equipped with goggles that protect her eyes from dust and smoke, boots to prevent damage to her paws while she clambers over rough wreckage and a harness that can help her go up and down disaster sites, Frida took to her work looking every bit the part of the seasoned rescue worker she is.
If Frida detects the presence of a survivor, she is trained to bark to alert rescue workers but if she detects a corpse she stops suddenly before proceeding, her handler explained.
Eleven children were rescued from wreckage at the school but this time human rescue workers rather than the dogs were the ones who located them.
However, that hasn’t stopped Frida from becoming a social media star and reaching a new level of fame this week.
Videos and other social media posts that highlight the work of Frida and her impressive record of detecting people trapped by natural disasters quickly went viral.
While she has yet to detect anyone trapped in the rubble this week, she and other rescue dogs are continuing to work tirelessly, searching through confined spaces that humans cannot reach. With the possibility that there are still people trapped alive, time will tell whether she adds to her rescue tally.
Two weeks ago, she discovered the body of a police officer that had died in the town of Juchitán after the September 7 earthquake, the LA Times reported.
Frida has previously seen active service in the aftermath of a landslide in Guatemala, earthquakes in Ecuador and Haiti and a massive explosion at the Pemex tower in Mexico City.
Frida and her follow rescue dogs were joined yesterday by a team of six dogs and their trainers from the Canadian Search and Disaster Dogs Association, who flew in to Mexico City from Edmonton, Alberta, to join the post-earthquake search.
Search and rescue dogs were first trained in Mexico after the devastating 1985 earthquake. Some European handlers who brought dogs to contribute to the rescue efforts later returned to educate Mexicans about how to train their very own future canine heroes.