Search and rescue dog Diesel has his day

Presenter Bill Oddie, Diesel's handler Gary Carroll, host Lord Desai,  and lower right IFAW UK director James Sawyer
Presenter Bill Oddie, Diesel's handler Gary Carroll, host Lord Desai, and lower right IFAW UK director James Sawyer

An Aberdeenshire search and rescue dog has been honoured with a special award at the House of Lords.

Ten-year-old springer spaniel Diesel, along with handler Gary Carroll, from Torphins, works with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

Diesel and handler Gary Carroll at work

Diesel and handler Gary Carroll at work

Diesel received a special accolade on Tuesday from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

He is one of a small and select team of UK dogs whose specialist skills are used by the UK International Search and Rescue Team (ISAR), which assists overseas after earthquakes and other natural disasters.

In 2015, Diesel was deployed to search for survivors of the devastating earthquake in Nepal.

His primary role with SFRS is urban search and rescue, which involves searching for survivors when buildings collapse, such as after gas explosions.

A secondary role is to look for vulnerable missing people, often children or elderly people, as well as searching for survivors of traffic accidents who sometimes wander off due to shock or other injuries.

Diesel and Gary, 49, also regularly attend events to meet the public and inform them about the many aspects of SFRS work, as well as educating people of all ages on fire safety.

Gary, a crew commander with SFRS and an ISAR dog handler, said: “I feel very grateful and honoured that Diesel has received this IFAW award, which we accept on behalf of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and all the International Search and Rescue dogs and their handlers who all do fantastic work.

“I feel this award should be for all of them.

“Having trained dogs like Diesel is so important in protecting the safety of people both in the UK and for work overseas.

“In major building collapses and earthquakes, we really rely on them to let us know if people are alive or not and we can trust their responses.”

Diesel has more than 5,000 Twitter followers and is on social media to help SFRS deliver important safety information and advice to the public.

He has proved to be a hit with photos of him wearing personal protective equipment, which includes special booties to protect his paws from broken glass, and canine goggles (doggles) to protect his eyes from dust or debris in case he needs to be transported into disaster zones by helicopter.

His award at IFAW’s Animal Action event was presented by TV wildlife presenter Bill Oddie.