Rex, a black Labrador retriever who loves nothing greater than to chew on an outdated piece of fireplace hose, celebrated the top of his 11-year profession on the Lengthy Seaside Hearth Division this week.
He was the division’s first search-and-rescue canine, and has been deployed throughout the state and nation to assist throughout large-scale disasters, together with to Texas for Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Hearth officers honored the 13-year-old pooch and his handler, Capt. Wade Haller, outdoors the Hearth Division’s headquarters on Thursday.
In the course of the ceremony, Rex eagerly sniffed the 2 honorary plaques he acquired, adopted by a deal with and a second to play along with his favourite toy – that outdated hearth hose. Not like his human counterparts, Rex’s pension will seemingly be extra toys and limitless pets from Haller’s 9-year-old daughter.
“He has been an amazing asset not just for ourselves,” Hearth Chief Xavier Espino stated, “however to all of our neighboring businesses within the area. We’re simply very happy with what they’ve accomplished collectively as a workforce.”
Rex’s legacy is being handed onto Dallas, a 3-year-old black Labrador retriever, who Haller lately licensed to change into the division’s second search-and-rescue canine.
Coaching for the canines and their handlers occurs on daily basis.
“When a canine is paired with a handler, they’ve to coach six to 9 months to prepare for his or her first take a look at, stated Steve Dohman, battalion chief on the Orange County Hearth Authority. “That’s simply certifying the canine and the handler, that they will work collectively as a workforce.”
Whereas Rex is assigned to Lengthy Seaside hearth, he is part of the Federal Emergency Administration Company City Search and Rescue job pressure that Dohman oversees. The duty pressure sponsored Haller to get Rex, along with facilitating much of the ongoing training over time.
He’s at the moment one in all 83 canine within the nation skilled by the Nationwide Catastrophe Search Canine Basis, the nonprofit that offered Rex.
With fundamental obedience coaching and agility workout routines every day, Haller stated there are simulated searches twice every week to maintain the canine sharp. Rex, a scent detection canine, makes use of his abilities and his nostril to seek for individuals who could also be trapped beneath particles.
“We’ll do simulated searches in varied locations the place there is likely to be an emergency,” he stated, “there are concrete rubble piles that simulate a constructing collapse, piles of wooden pallets.”
One of many newer disasters Rex responded to was the 2018 mudslides in Montecito, following the Thomas hearth. Haller recalled his workforce working to rescue a lady who might be heard by floor searchers from beneath the mud.
“We had already discovered her, however as soon as we eliminated her from the pile we have been in a position to make use of Rex and one other search canine to look that pile and ensure no person was left in there,” Haller stated. “Whereas he has by no means discovered any individual, which is what we prepare for, he has cleared many areas for us to know there may be no person left.”
Outdoors of labor, Rex is with Haller and his household on daily basis, together with on most holidays. His daughter reads to Rex inside his kennel each evening.
“My daughter has been dying to come up with him,” Haller stated. “He’s a working canine and for him, petting him is such a reward, as (with) a working canine you’ll be able to’t have everyone petting your canine,” Haller stated. “That features the household. There are particular necessities for what we do with Rex, and now she’s tremendous excited as a result of now she will be able to love on him all she desires.”