Urban search and rescue dog Diesel has retired

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By Steven O'Neill

 

A Fire Service search and rescue dog that has responded more than 300 times to protect communities in Scotland and abroad has now officially retired.

Springer Spaniel Diesel has hung up his protective boots and doggles after helping locate casualties over the past eight years – or approximately 55 ‘dog years’.

The clever canine joined the United Kingdom International Search and Rescue team in 2012 and then the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in 2015.

And he was trained to use his powerful nose to move quickly through collapsed buildings or across wide areas of land to detect the live scent of an injured or trapped survivor.

Based in Portlethen, Aberdeenshire, Diesel has been working side-by-side with handler Gary Carroll who is a Crew Commander with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

The pair were notably deployed to Nepal in 2015 as part of the UK’s International Search and Rescue team after an earthquake hit the region and thousands sadly lost their lives.

11-year-old Diesel was the first search dog employed by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and will officially hand over the lead to his protégé Mac. 

Looking back at their time together, Crew Commander Carroll said: “Myself and Diesel have had a great working relationship over the years.

“I’ve had him since the day he was born and have been able to watch him grow into an incredible search dog.

“When we’ve attended incidents he’s always checking that I am ok, in the same way that I have done with him.”

He added: “He’s been a real asset and been able to help firefighters and other agencies at incidents by searching large areas in a short time frame.

“By doing this he’s able to help ascertain whether someone is within the search area – and, if not, then we can quickly move the focus onto another search area.”

Mac is a four-year-old English Springer Spaniel and has been an operational search dog with the national service since October 2019, also based in Portlethen, Aberdeenshire.

Martin Blunden is the Chief Officer for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

He said: “Firstly, I want to thank Diesel for his service – he’s been an important part of our response across Scotland for a number of years now.

“Even though he sees searching as a game, he’s dedicated a large part of his life to helping people when they are in need and that should be commended.

“I’d also like to thank Gary and his family for the hard work and time they have put in to training both Diesel and Mac.”

Crew Commander Carroll works as an Urban Search and Rescue instructor at the training centre in Portlethen.

Chief Officer Blunden continued: “It’s an incredible level of commitment shown by both handler and dog to be there for people across Scotland when needed.

“Whether it is the middle of the night or just as dinner is being served, a call can come in and Gary will drop anything to provide a potentially life-saving resource.”

To find out more about search dog Mac follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @sfrsdog.

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