A German Shepherd puppy has arrived in Mexico after being flown from Turkey as a gesture of gratitude from the Turkish government for the help Mexico’s search dogs lent after February’s earthquake.
Turkey said it hoped the puppy would “carry on the legacy” of Proteo, a Mexican rescue dog that died during the search for survivors of the quake.
More than 50,000 people died in the quake which had its epicenter in Turkey but also affected parts of Syria.
The puppy is yet to be named.
Mexico’s Ministry of Defence, which trains search and rescue dogs for their missions at home and abroad, has asked people to cast their votes for one of three names: Proteo II, Arkadas (Turkish for “friend”) or Yardim (Turkish for “help”).
Mexico said Turkey’s canine gift showed that “humanitarian aid knows no limits or borders”.
On its Twitter account, the ministry had also provided a link on which fans of the puppy could track the flight which took it to Mexico City from Istanbul.
The puppy was given a warm welcome by staff from the Ministry of Defense at Mexico City’s airport. Dog trainers, who were carrying the puppies they are training in rucksack-like pouches in front of them, stood to attention as the new recruit arrived.
Mexico, a country prone to earthquakes, has a number of civilian and military teams with canine units specialized in searching for survivors when disasters strike.
The dogs won the hearts of many Mexicans when they saved several lives after the 2017 earthquake which struck central Mexico.
When Turkey and Syria were hit by a massive quake on 6 February, Mexico quickly deployed teams with rescue dogs to help locate people under the rubble.
Among the dogs deployed was Proteo, a nine-year-old German Shepherd, who managed to locate a man and a woman from under the rubble.
Proteo died while in Turkey. His trainer denied rumours that the dog had been hit by falling rubble, saying that he had died from “exhaustion” after the long journey and arduous hours searching for survivors in very cold conditions.
His remains were returned to Mexico, where he was honoured in an emotional ceremony before he was buried.
On its Facebook page, Mexico’s ministry of defense said that it was “waiting with open arms” for the puppy Turkey had donated, saying that it hoped it would follow in his paw steps.