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Award for Hero Fire and Rescue Dog Davey

Life-saving hero dog scoops Animal of the Year Award after Turkey earthquake mission

A search and rescue dog has been recognised with a special award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) for saving lives following Turkey’s devastating earthquakes.

Davey is a six-year-old Springer Spaniel, who has been serving with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service in the United Kingdom for almost five years alongside his handler and UK ISAR Canine Team Lead, Lindsay Sielski.

In February, Davey embarked on his first international deployment to Turkey in the wake of the deadly earthquakes that killed thousands, where he searched for survivors with UK International Search and Rescue (UK ISAR). Davey immediately got to work, searching about 40 buildings per day. 

The UK ISAR team rescued eight people from the rubble during the 10-day deployment, with each rescue taking between 30 minutes to 18 hours. The dog team located a further three survivors, with Davey being responsible for two.

After one arduous nine-hour search, Davey found a woman amongst the rubble who was successfully rescued. The team then rescued a family trapped in rubble and Davey was once again tasked with searching for other nearby survivors. Davey became fixated on a crack in a wall that joined with the neighbouring home and began continuously barking. However, upon initial inspection, no survivors were found, and the team was sent to search for survivors elsewhere.

“After seven days of searching, the situation was becoming extremely bleak, and on the eighth day, the team faced a real low point”, Lindsay said.

“But then someone from the Turkish rescue team rushed over to say that where Davey had been continuously barking, they had successfully rescued someone who was unconscious from a void. It was just the pinnacle needed - providing a sense of light. Knowing that another person’s life had been saved was a wonderful feeling.”

Fire and Rescue Service Davey with
 his handler Lindsay Sielski
Davey was surrendered to the
Dogs Trust when he was just one year old in 2018, as his energetic temperament meant he wasn’t well suited to being a pet. 

The Dogs Trust team recognised that his endless energy and intelligence could make him an ideal service dog candidate. 

They reached out to Lindsay who began his training programme with the ISAR to become a search and rescue dog.

“When we started the training, he was a little naughty at times, but it was clear he was cut out for this job. He was comfortable climbing onto piles of rubble immediately where many dogs feel afraid - Davey just loved it,” Lindsay said.

Davey mainly works in the UK where he is deployed to explosions and assists the police with locating high-risk missing people. More recently, he was deployed to search for survivors after the Morocco earthquake in September.

On winning the award, Lindsay commented: “I’m so proud of Davey and all that he’s achieved, as well as all the other working dogs that do this vital role that helps search and rescue teams on the ground.
“Davey is a special dog – a rescue dog, who has become a rescuer.”
Shannon Walajtys, IFAW’s Director of Disaster Response and Risk Reduction said: “Hearing about Davey was one of those touching stories that struck me. Going into disaster zones is a tough job – something we sometimes witness when deploying to search for surviving animals. But Davey’s job of going in to find people, really demonstrates that this is a situation that works both ways. 

If it weren’t for Davey, those people may not have been found in time - I’m thrilled to see him receive the IFAW Animal of the Year Award.”

Davey received his award at IFAW’s prestigious Animal Action Awards event at London’s BAFTA on October 17 (GMT+1).

Awardees were nominated by members of the public. This year, over 470 nominations were received from 21 countries. After a review and shortlisting process, six winners were selected from across the globe to receive one of the Animal Action Awards.

About ifaw

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is a global non-profit helping animals and people thrive together. We are experts and everyday people, working across seas, oceans and in more than 40 countries around the world. We rescue, rehabilitate and release animals, and we restore and protect their natural habitats. We partner with local communities, governments, non-governmental organisations and businesses. Together, we pioneer new and innovative ways to help all species flourish. See how at

MEDIA RELEASE, 18th October 2023

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