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A dozen American search-and-rescue dogs are on the ground in Japan to search for survivors after last week’s earthquake and tsunami.
Riley, Baxter, Pearl, Hunter, Cadillac and Joe were trained by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation  (SDF) and are based with firefighters in California. They’re currently at work in the hard-hit city of Ofunato. According to a CNN report , another group of six dogs, from Virginia Task Force 1  in Fairfax County, Va., have joined the effort as well.
Both rescue crews have responded to some of the biggest disasters of the last 20 years, from the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11 attacks to Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Learn more about the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation in Lisa Wade McCormick’s story for Bark, “Rescue, Doubled ” (Sept/Oct 2009).
The teams will sniff for humans still alive and trapped in the wreckage—even unconscious victims can be detected. Nosing into the layers of rubble, the dogs help “clear” areas as searchers systematically move through the debris.
The dogs’ work is easy to follow stateside: The SDF posts frequent updates on their site and on the group’s Facebook  and Twitter  pages. There’s even video of the dogs arriving in Japan  to begin their mission.
Task Force 1 also reports the latest news on their site. The most recent posting, from Wednesday evening in Japan, said the dogs had concluded their searches in Ofunato and Kamaishi with no victims located.
Photo: UN. From National Disaster Search Dog Foundation.