ISLAMABAD-Due to lack of care and fresh breeding, most of the trained rescue dogs belonging to the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad’s Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team have become useless at present due to age factor.

A dedicated canine component (search dogs) was a part of USAR raised with the help of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in 2009 after the Marriot Hotel bombing in Islamabad.

According to officials deputed in Emergency and Rescue Directorate of MCI, there were 17 trained dogs obtained from the Army Dog Centre in 2009, however, some of them died one after another in last one decade.

Sources informed that though there were some fresh inductions due to indigenous breeding but the same did not happen in a systematic way. They informed that rescue dogs have a certain operational age after which they become useless in terms of operational capabilities.

One of the handlers of rescue dogs informed on the condition of anonymity that only a few efficient dogs were left behind to take part in any rescue operation as most of the dogs are overage.

The rescue dogs are looked after and trained by trainers from the army who are on deputation in the MCI to run its dog centre and the authority is paying around Rs8 million annually to these handlers while about a million is being spent on dog’s feed annually.   

Meanwhile, a senior officer on the condition of anonymity informed further that the canine component is a permanent burden on MCI and running its affairs are beyond our capacity.

“We don’t even have a dedicated vehicle to transport these trained Labrador retrievers in case of emergency,” he added.   

He informed that these dogs took part in major emergency operations during Gayari sector avalanche, Attabad Lake land sliding and Peshawar Meena Bazaar bombing but rarely used in Islamabad.   

When contacted, the MCI’s spokesperson Syed MohsinSharazi informed that there were a total of 15 dogs and only four died in the last few years due to their age factor. He, however, denied the impression that the dogs are not efficient enough to take part in operations.

After the 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing, the National Disaster Management Authority helped the Capital Development Authority set up its first emergency wing, the Emergency and Disaster Management Directorate. The USAR falls under the emergency directorate.

After the establishment of the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI), the USAR team, fire brigade, fire prevention and audit wings and other directorates were devolved to the MCI.