Phenomenal service dog returns from first international deployment

Our former rescue dog has returned from a life-saving search and rescue mission in earthquake stricken Turkey.

Davey the search and rescue dog of UK fire and rescue service ISAR, helping with the efforts in Turkey, sleeping.
15th March 2023

Adopted from our Shoreham rehoming centre in 2018, Davey the six-year-old springer spaniel has served with Lancashire Fire and Rescue for nearly five years.

During his first international deployment, Davey spent ten days in the city of Antakya in the Hatay province searching for survivors with UK International Search and Rescue (UK ISAR) resulting from the recent earthquakes. 

Alongside his handler and UK ISAR Canine Team Lead, Lindsay Sielski, Davey was part of Red Team One working on the ground. They arrived within 72 hours of the earthquake with Davey searching around 40 buildings per day. He helped to find three survivors and provided vital intelligence for the rest of the team about where to focus their rescue efforts. Davey is the only rescue dog within a team of eight dogs qualified to work internationally with UK ISAR. Another rescue dog from our Loughborough centre, a Labrador called Bailey, is following in Davey's footsteps and is also excelling during his training. 

Also there as part of the UK ISAR team was Victoria Phillips, our Veterinary Surgeon Manager, who volunteers with the search and rescue team as veterinary support. Victoria’s role is to take care of the incredible rescue dogs like Davey who are trained to locate people caught up in disaster zones.

Speaking about Davey and the rescue mission, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Canine Team Lead Lindsay Sielski said:

“Our dogs and the work they do is so important in the harshest of environments.  Hatay was an assault on the senses with the noise, sights, smells, dust and shattered glass everywhere, but the dogs weren’t distracted from their purpose of finding people alive.

We worked 18-hour days during which Davey searched tirelessly.  He located a female casualty on the first day of searching who went on to be successfully rescued. Davey is a very special search dog. He is so agile and his dexterity is phenomenal. He doesn’t get overly excited on searches, he doesn’t give wrong answers, he works effortlessly and methodically - it is beautiful to witness.  He has the magical on-off switch. He comes home at the end of the working day with me as part of the family and is a different dog.

Search dogs like Davey play such a vital role that not only protects the health and safety of all Fire and Rescue teams, but they also protect our mental health by searching in areas we can’t. Davey and the other three dogs deployed to Turkey carried out their work flawlessly.”

Lindsay holding Davey at Airport along with vet Victoria Phillips.

Davey arrived at Shoreham in March 2018 as a one-year-old youngster after his owner could no longer care for him. One month after being handed into our care, Davey was a search dog in training in Lancashire.

He successfully completed 12 months training to become a live casualty search and rescue dog. His everyday job with Lancashire Fire and Rescue involves searching collapsed buildings throughout the UK and he also works with Lancashire Police searching for vulnerable missing people. 

Davey was an active, fun dog who loved a tennis ball so we knew straight away he could be ideal as a service dog. We could see he was a quick learner and we were aware Lindsay was looking for a dog to train up. Davey was a perfect fit and has been a total star ever since. We are proud to have played a small part in his amazing journey. Davey is a very special boy.

Vicky Grylls, Assistant Manager Operations at Shoreham centre

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