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Saturday, Jun 03, 2023

Just desserts for quake rescue dogs

Just desserts for quake rescue dogs

Two rescue dogs deployed to quake-stricken Turkey were invited by Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu for thank-you snacks at the Government House.
The dogs - Twix and Umi - helped the 59-strong Hong Kong rescue team save four lives from the ruins of collapsed buildings last month, but did not join Lee's thank-you dinner with the rescuers upon return as they had to go through animal quarantine.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Lee declared the two dogs were fine and would resume duties.

He invited Twix, Umi and Umi's sister Uma - three English Springer Spaniels - to the Government House and treated them to their favorite snacks in gratitude for their performance during the Turkey rescue mission.

"Twix, Umi and Uma are all very energetic and they were excited when arriving at the lawn of the Government House," Lee said.

"Twix even laid down on the lawn and let us rub his belly. His cute appearance made us happy," Lee said, adding the dogs "sweetened his heart."

Dogs, he said, are indeed a man's best friend as well as a working partner.

Currently, there are more than 340 working dogs in the government's disciplinary services, assisting officers in patrol, investigative, drug detection and search duties to safeguard public safety, he said.

"I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to the dog handlers and the dogs, who have been safeguarding our safety and the security of the city," he said.

During the nine-day operation in quake-hit Turkey last month, the two dogs alerted rescuers once they got the scent of survivors.

Twix, a 21-month-old, was born in the United Kingdom and came to Hong Kong when he was only eight months old.

Two-year-old Umi is one of the six working dogs jointly bred by the Fire Services and the Customs and Excise departments.

The six locally bred working dogs - Farris, Uma, Taco, Umi, Raisa, and Effie, who together bear the so-called "Future" hopes of the departments - were born at the Breeding Centre of Customs Canine Force on the first day of the Lunar New Year in 2021.

Umi and Uma were deployed to the Fire Services Department to become rescue dogs of its search and rescue dog team.

There, they received three months of training at the Fire and Ambulance Services Academy in Tseung Kwan O.

Their other four siblings have joined Customs, detecting drugs, explosives and cash.
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