Number 5 of the FCI newsletter is ready, although somewhat later than usual. But, as number 6 is already in the pipeline and will be out soon, we will be able to present you with six issues a year as promised. Together with my partners Marie Luna Duran and Yves De Clercq we have worked hard to keep you informed on a regular basis about what goes on in the world of the FCI. As if starting up a newsletter was not enough, there were also the festivities to celebrate the FCI Centenary Year with the FCI Centenary Champion of Champions Show and the Cynological Days recently held in Brussels as the highlight. In the next issue we will focus on this event only, with a full report and lots of photos. I realize that it was not just an exhausting year for us, but for everyone who has worked hard to make all this happen, especially all the people who helped organizing the different events...

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Member of the Editorial Board of the FCI Newsletter

Earthquake Turkey

596 dead people, 4152 injured and 188 people rescued alive from the rubble. These are the official figures from the UN following the earthquake in Van/Turkey. 17 survivors have been found by the rescue dogs from the IRO (International Rescue Dog Organisation) Member Organisation, ‘AKUT’.

On Sunday, 23rd October at 1:41 pm local time, the earthquake with a magnitude 7.2 occurred near the Iranian border in eastern Turkey. Exactly 30 minutes later, at 2:11 pm, Hasan Eray Doğan, the leader of the ‘Ankara Team K9 Search Dog Unit‘ of ‘AKUT Search and Rescue Association‘ received an SMS: ‘Earthquake in the area of Van!‘


The first response teams were immediately put together. 21 helpers from the rescue organisation ‘AKUT’ set off in a bus from Bingol (approx. 350 km from Van) without rescue dogs. Meanwhile, further rescue teams from ‘AKUT’ gathered at the airport in Ankara – among them were 3 rescue dog teams. 2 additional rescue dog teams flew to Van later.

At 3:00 am local time (24th October), the first dogs arrived in Van and were transported to Ercis – the epicentre of the earthquake – after a first coordination meeting.

At temperatures of around 2 to 3 degree Celsius and clear weather, the three rescue dog teams from AKUT Ankara started the search. Unfortunately, they were not successful during the first hours. The first positive report came during lunch time: ‘Already six survivors found and rescued!’

Due to technical communication problems, there was no news from the rescue dog teams from ‘AKUT’ Istanbul (with two Border Collies) at this time – they were allocated to assist the aid teams in another region.

In Ercis the search continued:

Hasan Eray Doğan with his German Shepherd ‘Ruina’ (5 ½ years old). It is the first dog in Turkey to have passed an IRO level B rubble test.

Dog Kömür

The 6-year-old crossbreed ‘Kömür‘ led by the veterinarian, Tarkan Özvardar, is already known on an international level. The dog was a stray dog, was in a Turkish animal shelter and was then trained by Tarkan Özvadar to be an IRO certified rescue dog. This development – from stray dog to rescue dog – was also the topic of a presentation at the ‘7th International Working Dog Conference 2011’ in Sun City/South Africa.

The third dog from ‘AKUT‘ Ankara, who was deployed to Ercis, was the 5-year-old Golden Retriever ‘Cilek’ which means ‘strawberry’. ‘Cilek’ was led by Mehmet Sülükcü.

Dog Cilek

While more and more search and rescue teams (including 13 more rescue dog teams from Turkey) arrived in Van by air, those three dogs continued their search as the rain started falling. Later the rain turned into light snow. Their operation lasted 4 days and 4 nights – a total of 98 hours.

During this time, they searched on 60 different worksites and found and rescued 14 survivors. The dogs found three more victims, who were rescued by other rescue teams. Unfortunately, the rescue dogs also found 11 victims who were no longer alive.

When seeing the pictures and hearing the reports it seems like a miracle that, under those extreme conditions, no dog was hurt. As stated by Hasan Eray Doğan: “Everywhere on the rubble there was broken glass and many nails – but luckily we didn’t have any accident!“

International Rescue Dog Organisation

The ‘International Rescue Dog Organisation‘ IRO is a registered non-profit organisation and was founded in 1993. Members of IRO are 110 national organisations from 38 countries worldwide (e.g. ‘AKUT’ from Turkey).

Main goal of the IRO is to save lives by deploying rescue dog teams that are trained to the highest level.

Through close cooperation with the organisations of UNO, OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) and INSARAG (International Search & Rescue Advisory Group) IRO rescue dog teams that are trained and certified for international deployment are sent abroad. The international missions always take place with other certified search and rescue teams.

Paul Cech
Photos: AKUT/IR