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Taiwan confers officer status on 6 search and rescue dogs
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6 national search and rescue dogs were conferred officer ranks on Monday / Photo courtesy of CNA

Taipei, July 6 (CNA) Taiwan's six national search and rescue dogs were conferred officer ranks with their respective firefighting units on Monday, including a five-year-old dog that helped save lives in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake two years ago.

Among the six rescue canines, "Tie-hsiung", or Iron Hero, received "One Star on Two Horizontal Bars," a Grade 8 ranking that refers to team leader (or sergeant), according to information on Taiwan's National Fire Agency (NFA) website.

Tie-Hsiung, belonging to the Taichung Fire Bureau, became a household name in Taiwan after it helped find two people trapped under a partly collapsed building in the aftermath of a magnitude 6 earthquake in Hualien on Feb. 6, 2018.

The five other dogs, named Eva, Beta, Kathy, Kenna and Paul, were each conferred "Four Stars on One Horizontal Bar," meaning Grade 9 on the NFA's 11-grade system, with Grade 1 being the top-ranking supervisor.

They currently serve with their respective units at the Taipei City Fire Department, New Taipei Fire Department, Tainan City Fire Bureau, and Pingtung Bureau of Fire and Emergency Services.

At the presentation ceremony in Taipei, Tie-hsiung's handler Lee Chun-sheng said his dog has participated twice in the Mission and Readiness Test (MRT), an international certification by the International Search and Rescue Dog Organization (IRO).

Taiwan, meanwhile, also hosted the MRT Asia event in November last year, during which all of the six Taiwanese dogs participated and were certified by the IRO.

According to Lee, Tie-hsiung took part in his first MRT event in 2017.

The Taichung rescue Labrador also participated in the annual World Championship for Rescue Dogs that took place in France last September.

On Monday, Interior Minister Hsu Kuo-yung said only seven dogs from Asia were certified by the IRO in 2019, of which six were from Taiwan.

Hsu indicated that a total of 31 rescue dogs in the country have been certified by the Switzerland-based international organization.

At the Taipei ceremony, a celebration was also held to honor four other retired rescue dogs, which will be moving to their new homes with their adoptive families.

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