In addition to the specialization in the search for drowned persons, the foundation has mainly focused on searching for buried people in ruins. Signi search dogs has deployed her dogs abroad many times after a disaster situation and draws on her experiences from this.
For example, the dogs and handlers were deployed after the hurricane ‘Luis’ on St. Maarten (1995), after the earthquake in Turkey (1999), after the earthquake in Morocco (2004) and after the great natural disaster the ‘Tsunami’ (dec. 2004) in Sri Lanka and Thailand and the Hurricane Kathrina (August 2005), the earthquake in Pakistan (September 2005), the earthquake in China (2008), the earthquake in Haiti (January 2010), the earthquake or tsunami in Japan (2011 ), the mudslides in Nepal (2012) and the typhoon Haiwan in the Philippines (2013).
As a Dutch organization, Signi has gained the most experience in the field of foreign searches and the search for deceased persons by means of dogs in disaster areas.
Dogs and handlers are trained during (deployment) exercises in buildings that are / have been demolished. Comparable situations can also be used: rubble breakers, empty buildings, “disaster villages”, etc. During these exercises, both dog and handler learn to work independently while searching.
Good referral of the dog, even if the handler cannot enter or keep an eye on the area, is an important training point. The underlying theory ensures that the supervisors themselves also gain good insight into the work. The dog is rewarded with a ball, food reward is avoided.
Living or departed people
A distinction is made in referring the dogs to find dead and living people. The dogs can locate both living and deceased people, making a distinction in their reference. In this way, the living people can first be salvaged during an actual deployment. But locating a dead person is also a high priority for Signi, in order to provide security and peace to the next of kin. A dog will always want to find a living person first, as the reward is greater and more direct.