PHOTO-REPORT: A rescue team of THW working with dogs to find missing people

Clooney is ready for work. It’s a late morning at a Cologne demolition site. The equipment is out of duty today, but a few dogs and their owners are on location. Four and a half year old Clooney is a retriever trained to find missed or trapped people. Here in Cologne, Clooney and owner Marcus Gareis are in practice for an emergency – with a demolition site that is looking a lot like an earthquake area.

Clooney and his owner Marcus Gareis just before starting the day’s mission.

Al in all ten members counts the group of dog handlers. They all work for “Technisches Hilfswerk” – an organisation for rescuing and its technical support in times of emergencies. It takes up to two and a half years to prepare the dogs for their job, says Klaus Fabian, head of the group. While every dog breed is capable of doing it, especially larger dogs are on location this morning. They all have one thing in common: a well-working nose.

Klaus Fabian, head of the team, is giving instruction ahead of the training.

For the dogs it is a kind of a game, explains Klaus Fabian’s wife Dagmar. “It is important to give them a reward after finding the missing person.” Today Clooney and his co-workers get some cheese, jerk chicken or something to play with. “Depending on what they like to have,” says Dagmar Fabian.

Dagmar Fabian and her dog are exploring the territory.

Every weekend the group of men, women and dogs is out somewhere for a training session. Most of the times on the group’s own ground. The demolition site is a welcome change. Here, the dogs really have to use their nose, says Gareis. On the home ground they already know all places where to find the missing person.

Today the demolition site turns into an earthquake area.

While “Technisches Hilfswerk” operates worldwide, Klaus Fabian’s group mostly works in Germany. Typical emergencies are finding people who are lost because of dementia or people trapped by collapsed buildings.