NDRF trains first lot of stray dogs as search, rescue specialists
Blaze and Tiger are the latest trainee members of the National Disaster Response Force’s (NDRF) dog squad which helps personnel carry out search-and-rescue operations.
Contrary to the conventional norm, Blaze and Tiger are neither German Shepherds nor Labradors, but “desi” stray breed, which the NDRF’s eighth battalion has inducted as a novel experiment.
The battalion has four such strays, which were adopted from its Govindpuram campus in Ghaziabad. Blaze and Tiger are 17 months old, while the other two are puppies, who were born about 50 days ago.
NDRF officials said the initiative is a call to action of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “vocal for local” concept.
“We have started this new experiment. So far, we were involved in training German Shepherds and Labradors as part of the dog-squad’s search-and-rescue operation. Training strays is a bit difficult, when it comes to consistency. But they are doing well,” said PK Tiwary, commandant of the eighth NDRF battalion at Govindpuram in Ghaziabad.
“The strays have an edge, as they are acclimatised and require less care than the other breeds we have,” he added. At present, the battalion has 20 well-trained dogs and Blaze and Tiger are likely to join them after they successfully undergo training. “Blaze and Tiger have completed 40 weeks of training. Soon, they will team up with German Shepherds and Labradors for the search-and-rescue operations. This will be the toughest part of the training exercise, as the ‘desis’ are not friendly to the other breeds that we have,” said Sandeep Kumar, who is handling the training of the first lot of strays at the NDRF.
Blaze and Tiger have separate facilities such as kennel, training area and handlers from the German Shepherds and Labradors until they become friends with the rest of the pack.
All dogs in the battalion undergo training daily in the morning, including physical exercises, obstacles courses and search-and-rescue operations.
“The strays are very agile and, at times, it becomes difficult to make them concentrate. But over a period of time, they have become attuned to the commands. The other breeds are more obedient, sincere and can be handled easily even by other handlers. On the contrary, the strays mostly like to take commands from their own handler,” Kumar said.
The dogs are an integral part of the NDRF and a dog-squad always accompanies teams, whenever they go for search and rescue missions.
The dogs with NDRF are well trained and are also familiar with public places in a bid to perform their duties in crowded places and urban landscapes.
The handlers at the battalion said that the “desi” dogs have more physical stamina and are less susceptible to ailments.
“We are pulling out all stops to train Blaze and Tiger, who are puny and less bulky than other breeds that we have. They are likely to prove more successful in search-and-rescue missions. Team work is the key to their success, which will be the most crucial phase of the training that starts soon,” Kumar added.
The dogs from the battalion have proved their mettle during the 2011 tsunami rescue operations in Japan, 2015 earthquake in Nepal and have even served in several missions across the country.
They have also taken part in local search-and-rescue operations such as the Akash Nagar building collapse in Ghaziabad and Shaberi building collapse incident at Greater Noida in Gautam Buddha Nagar district.