A five-year-old golden Labrador that helped save lives in the aftermath of a deadly magnitude 6 earthquake in Hualien last year is heading to France with his trainer to compete in the annual World Championship for Rescue Dogs, the Taichung Fire Bureau said Friday.
Tie-hsiung (鐵雄), or Iron Hero, passed the qualifying round last November, scoring 280 out of 300 in a simulated search and rescue operation that required him to find people buried under rubble, the bureau's chief Tseng Chin-tsai (曾進財) said.
Tie-hsiung and his trainer Lee Chun-sheng (李俊昇), along with another dog called Wonder and four other trainers, will represent Taiwan at the championship in Paris Sept. 17-22, competing against 118 teams from across the world, Tseng said.
While in Europe, the Taiwan team will also take part in a mantrailing training program at the German Search and Rescue Dog Association, according to Tseng.
The association, which has close ties with Taiwan, had issued the invitation in 2016 for the national Special Search and Rescue Team to participate in the training program in Germany, he said.
In 2017, members of the German association sent experts to Taichung to train rescue dogs, including Tie-hsiung, under a memorandum of understanding it had signed that year with the city, Tseng said.
Tie-hsiung became a household name in Taiwan after he helped find helped two people who were trapped under a partly collapsed building in the aftermath of a magnitude 6 quake in Hualien on Feb. 6.
On his first search and rescue assignment, Tie-hsiung located one person who has been trapped under the building for 15 hours and was pulled from the rubble virtually unharmed.
The other person whom the dog helped find in the rubble did not survive.
Tie-hsiung was later named Taichung City Ambassador in recognition of his heroic work in the wake of the earthquake that left 17 people dead and 285 injured. (By Lee Hsin-Yin)