Man’s best friend hones rescue skills at Aggregate Industries NE facility

Aggregate Industries US, Northeast Region recently hosted an International Rescue Dog Organization (IRO) Rubble Trial at its Littleton, Mass., K-9 testing facility. Four teams competed at two different levels (RH-T-A and RH-T-B), which involved the rescue of two and three victims within 20 minutes and 30 minutes, respectively, in a simulated rubble pile.

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The Littleton site bears rubble and terrain suited to International Rescue Dog Organization and Urban Search and Rescue Team compulsories. Dogs qualify for emergency duty only after exhibiting astute scent-tracking and locating skills, independent of handlers.

The dogs had to enter the rubble pile willingly and independently of the handler who remained off the pile. When a dog found a victim, it had to alert (bark) clearly, forcefully and in the direction of the scent until his handler reached him. The handler then identified the place where the dog picked up the scent. Of the four dogs tested, only two passed the rubble assessment—Leon, a Dutch Shepherd (RH-T-A) and Eiko, a German Shepherd (RH-T-B).

This is the second year that an IRO event has been held at the Aggregate Industries site. The test was conducted by Canine Alert Search Team (CAST) of Hancock, N.H., an IRO member and the only organization currently running IRO tests in the United States.

“We [were] pleased that the International Rescue Dog Organization selected Aggregate Industries to host this certification for the second time,” says Aggregate Industries US Chief Operating Officer Guy Edwards. “The International Rescue Dog Organization and the rescue dogs do an incredible job and perform an indispensable service to both our nation and the world. We feel privileged to support the IRO’s crucial work.”

“The location is unique and indispensable to the complete training of a search dog,” adds Elizabeth LaPointe, one of the organizers of the event. “If a dog can work through the challenges of difficult footing, dispersed scent problems and out of sight of its handler, then you know you have a very strong search and rescue dog capable of working in the most difficult of environments.”37 AggregateIII 400

Aggregate Industries built the Littleton K-9 Testing Facility in 2010, hosting a similar Massachusetts Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue Team (MA-TF 1 US&R) event. The course includes specially designed rubble piles to replicate situations where dogs must locate buried survivors. A realistic course like the one at Aggregate Industries’ Littleton facility is crucial in preparing teams for emergencies where recovery is often a matter of life and death.

The IRO is the worldwide umbrella organization for national K9 search and rescue organizations working under IRO standards. Currently, there are over 110 member organizations in 38 countries.