Hero dogs in Türkiye
Proteo came from miles away to save people in the lands he had never known.
Proteo, a 9-year-old German Shepherd from Mexico deployed in rescue efforts in quake-hit Türkiye, died in the line of duty on 12 February.
“Thank you, Proteo, for your heroic work. You accomplished the mission,” the Secretariat of National Defense in Mexico (Sedena) said on Twitter.
The “Puppy of the Mexican Army” had been in service since he was four months old, aiding post-disaster search efforts in Mexico, Haiti, Guatemala, and Ecuador.
Proteo was among the 16 rescue dogs sent by the Mexican government on the Türkiye mission, helping rescue two people trapped in the rubble. Its trainer, Carlos Villeda Marquez, said Proteo died from unforgiving weather conditions and the long journey.
Memorial ceremonies were held by Mexican rescue teams and the army in honor of Proteo; the Mexican Army and the Sedena used Proteo’s image as Twitter avatar.
Nyctophile Studios, a game development team in Istanbul, decided to immortalize Proteo with a cameo of its statue on a video game, Death Relives, a note inscribed about Proteo’s efforts to save the Turkish people.
Meanwhile, a municipality in Istanbul erected a statue of Proteo in a park named after the late Japanese aid volunteer Miyazaki Atsushi, who died in the 2011 earthquake in eastern Türkiye. A stray animal rehab center in Türkiye’s northwestern province of Kocaeli was named after Proteo.
“Proteo came from Mexico, miles away, and came to save our citizens under the rubble… in these lands he had never known, and he succeeded,” Sukru Genc, the mayor of Sariyer Municipality, told local media.
Rescue dogs sent by the US, the UK, Switzerland, Poland, Greece, Germany, Taiwan, and the European Union to Turkiye work in teams of three in 20-minute shifts. A volunteer team from Switzerland said every time their dog finds a person, it is praised and rewarded with a toy or food.
Recently, a photo of a rescue dog deployed in Türkiye with a toy in snout made headlines in Taiwan.
Aside from Proteo, Colin, a search dog from the UK, suffered a “small injury” in duty.
A rescue team from the US meanwhile, posted on social media: “Work [in the] rubble is hazardous and injuries can happen. Xandr hurt his paw but was quickly patched and at work with no problems!”
In other news: Philippine rescuers in Türkiye serve as animal rescuers in between rescue missions: feeding cats, dogs and other pets who lost their humans.
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