Mission possible: Two heroic Labradors sniff out survivors in Taiwan quake wreckage

This heartwarming story of two brave pooches’ first successful rescue mission to sniff out survivors in the Hualien quake wreckage prove that not all heroes wear capes. Read on to find out how these rookie pups saved the day.
By Yong Cindy
Published on Monday, 12 February 2018

Four-year-old Labrador pup named Tie Hsiung, whose name translates to “Iron Hero”, set out on his first mission as a rescue dog to search for survivors after a shocking 6.4 magnitude quake struck the eastern city of Hualien, Taiwan, on 6 Feb (Tues), resulting in a death toll of 10 people.

Tie Hsiung, together with his fellow furry training companion, Tuei Tuei (“Leg-Leg”), also a  four-year-old Labrador pooch, flew out with Taichung Fire Bureau rescue team from the western city of Taichung to the disaster scene.

The pair were selected from a customs training centre where they were deemed as unsuitable to be drug detection dogs because they were too lively. Little did these canines know, that asset was exactly what authorities value in earthquake rescue dogs, as they have to be bold and unafraid of any sound or machinery.

The furry duo certainly did not let the rescue team and their trainers down, as despite the dangerous aftershocks with glass and nails scattered everywhere, Tie Hsiung managed to sniff out two survivors that were pinned under the wreckage of Marshal Hotel: One had been buried under the rubble for 15 hours and was rescued relatively unscathed, while unfortunately, the other eventually succumbed to his injuries.

Tuei Tuei was also applauded for bravely searching the upper floors of the hotel. However, Tie Hsiung had to be taken to the vet two days later due to ear inflammation that may have occurred as a result of allergies, the weather or stress.

According to Chong Tsung-chi, a senior trainer with the National Fire Agency, rescue dog teams were not fully established in Taiwan until the late 2010.

To commemorate this canine duo’s bravery, pictures and videos of the rescue have since gone viral, and Taichung mayor Lin Chia-lung even praised the pair for “achieving a great merit”, while netizens have dubbed the duo the “pride of Taichung”.