Republic of Poland

WUELS' veterinarians are going to treat search and rescue dogs

Dog rescuers from WOPR (Wodne Ochotnicze Pogotowie Ratunkowe, eng. – Aquatic Volunteer Emergency Service), GOPR (Górskie Ochotnicze Pogotowie Ratunkowe, eng. – Mountain Volunteer Emergency Service) and OSP (Ochotnicza Straż Pożarna, eng. – Volunteer Fire Brigade) have been taken into specialistic veterinary care at WUELS.

23 January 2018

– The worst moment is when I have to decide if I can afford my dog’s treatment – says Magdalena Szewczyk-Dzido, a rescuer from WOPR and OSP, owner and guide of two search and rescue (SAR) dogs, named Frida and Sticz. – Most of the dogs in uniformed services are private-owned dogs. Only recently one dog tore its knee ligament, another dog had a suspicion of bone cancer, and yet another one drank from a puddle in a field sprayed with some chemicals and got burnt so badly it was a miracle it even survived. A progressive retinal atrophy has been recently detected in my dog’s eye. The costs of treatment in cases like these are enormous. Not everyone can afford it. It takes two years to train a SAR dog and there is no equipment that could take a dog’s nose’s place in a search for people in a collapsed building, in a landslide, in the mountains, in a forest at night. There hasn’t been a single case where dogs would leave in the debris a person that was still alive.

search and rescue dogs, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, WUELS,
fot. Tomasz Lewandowski

– Dogs are not only partners at work but our friends, above all. Because they work with us, we can try to save human lives, voluntarily, it’s not our job. That’s why these contracts are a godsend to us – admits Szewczyk-Dzido as the representatives of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine sign the contract for veterinary care for SAR dogs, a WOPR’s watchdog, OSP and GOPR’s SAR dogs – working and ”retired”. Specific medical examination, diagnostic tests, essential lab analyses and dogs’ treatment are going to be free of charge, dog owners will only have to pay for the used medical materials.

search and rescue dogs, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, WUELS,
fot. Tomasz Lewandowski

– There’s no possibility to insure a SAR dog in Poland. You can insure a human rescuer but not the one with four paws. And dogs take part in open terrain searches, in avalanches, often in unpredictable places like underground watercourses. There are also trainings, practice – dogs have to be in excellent condition, each rescue mission is a great physical effort for them. They suffer from injury, trauma or degenerative disc disease much more often than other dogs – says Jacek Falkenberg from GOPR; he’s also a WOPR instructor and rescuer, and the owner of a 7-year old German Shepard named Rico.

search and rescue dogs, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, WUELS,
fot. Tomasz Lewandowski

Five dogs accompanying their guardians during the contract signing have already been through medical examination, including a cardiological one (due to excess physical effort dog rescuers can suffer from left ventricular hypertrophy among others).