From 3 to 6 February 2022, the 2nd IRO World Championship for Search and Rescue Dogs in Avalanche Search took place in Pitztal, Tyrol. Canines from six nations took part in the international competition. The dogs had to find three people at a depth of about two metres on a 12,000 square metre snow field within half an hour.
When the avalanche danger in the Alps increases, as it has these days due to the continuous snowfalls, the lifesavers with the fine nose are particularly challenged. Dogs smell about a million times better than humans. "Despite modern technology, an avalanche dog is still the most effective resource to quickly locate avalanche victims," explains Alois Balog, President of the International Search and Rescue Dog Organisation.
Regular training sessions and competitions such as a World Championship are important to practise the operation after an avalanche. If a person has been buried by an avalanche, every second counts. After only 15 minutes in the snow, the chance of survival drops rapidly. In deployment, however, it is not only the performance of the dog that matters; the dog handler must also have the appropriate training.
The best team performance at this year's World Championship was shown by Jantine Boerrigter and dog Andy van Romantos Hoeve from the Netherlands. With a very good result in the search and obedience work, they secured the title. They competed against nine teams from Finland, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland and Austria. "Despite the fact that in times of COVID-19 fewer teams were able to take part in the international contest, there was a high level of competition," explained organiser Hermann Kranz of the Rettungshunde Verband Österreich (RHVÖ) contentedly.
We would like to express our gratitude to the municipality of St. Leonhard im Pitztal, the Pitztaler Gletscherbahn and the local Tourism Association as well as family Auer from the Hotel Sturpen. Without the support of these partners, the realisation of the event would not have been possible.
- Jantine Boerrigter with dog Andy van Romantos Hoeve, Netherlands
- Kirsi Myöhänen with dog Jedi, Finland
- Claudio Bötschi with dog Ilai, Switzerland
TirolTV report from 10.02.2022
Photos: Silke Hodler