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How Dogs Are Helping Rescue & Recovery Efforts at Surfside Condo Collapse

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About two dozen dogs have deployed to south Florida to assist in rescue and recovery efforts at the Surfside condo collapse that has, so far, left 16 people confirmed dead and nearly 150 more unaccounted for.


Many of the heroes working tirelessly to rescue and recover victims of the catastrophic Champlain Towers South condo collapse in Surfside, Florida are working on four-legs. About two dozen dogs from around the country began working around the clock, on 10-minute shifts at a time, following the June 24th collapse.

There are two groups of specially trained dogs at the site of the tragic collapse. One group are search and rescue dogs, trained to detect survivors by sniffing for breath and human scents. The second group are cadaver dogs, trained to locate deceased humans for recovery.

From German shepherds to Golden retrievers, Labs, and Greyhounds, a variety of breeds are on the scene, bounding through the rubble, continuing to give hope of another miraculous recovery—only one survivor has been found since the collapse—or closure.

Surfside Condominium Collapse Photo From Miami Dade Fire Rescue 6
Ground view of partially collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building. Rubble is more clearly visible in the daylight, along with damage on the ground to vehicles and an outdoor dining area. Rescuers and a rescue dog are visibly working within the rubble area to search for survivors | Photo via Miami-Dade Fire Rescue

The dogs are able to access smaller spaces than their human handlers, then bark to alert when a human scent is detected. The average dog has over 300 million olfactory receptors in its nose (compared to a relatively tiny six million for humans). Dogs have been trained to sniff out anything from humans to bacteria, viruses, bedbugs, and electronic devices with near-perfect precision, making them perfect for the daunting task of rescue and recovery.

While the dogs differ in breed, size, and personality, they all have a few qualities in common—endurance, drive, focus, and an ability to follow commands. The amazing dogs work for toys, food, and praise.

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