Mexico Earthquake Rescue Dog Gets Her Own Statue

Wearing her protective goggles and blue booties, a search dog named Frida became a symbol of hope after the devastating 7.1 earthquake in Mexico City last September. The Labrador Retriever captured hearts around the world as she worked to find survivors.

During her career as a disaster rescue dog with the Mexican Navy’s (SEMAR) Canine Unit, Frida – she’s named after the artist Frida Kahlo — has helped find 53 survivors and victims, and not only in Mexico. She found 12 survivors of the Haiti earthquake in 2010. Two years later, she found the bodies of 42 people who were killed by a mudslide in Guatemala.

The dogs in the SEMAR Canine Unit are able to reach areas that humans can’t, including spaces less than 20 inches high. When they find a victim who’s alive, the dogs bark to alert their handlers. Otherwise, they stop and slowly approach the body.

“They act afraid,” Frida’s trainer, Israel Arauz, told the Los Angeles Times last September. “That indicates to us that there is a cadaver.”

SEMAR Canine Unit rescue dogs, like Frida, begin training when they are just two months old. The skills the dogs exhibit during their training determine whether they will work as rescue dogs or as detection dogs for narcotics or explosives.

Another of Frida’s trainers, Emmanuel Hernandez, told the Associated Press last year that Frida’s qualities as a good search dog were apparent early on. She was docile, had a good hunting instinct and a strong sense of smell.

Frida received hero status for her actions during the aftermath of the Mexico City earthquake. Two months later, she was honored with the Pagés Llergo prize, which is usually awarded to academics, students and journalists. Last year the recipients also included civilians and social leaders who helped in earthquake relief efforts.

Frida is also featured in a colorful mural on the side of a building in the Mexico City neighborhood of Roma Norte, which was hit hard by the earthquake.

“She is a symbol of strength and hope in these times, and I painted her to bring positivity to Roma Norte, a very affected area of the city that I love,” California artist Celeste Byers, who created the mural with graffiti artist Uneg, said in October 2017.

The Mexican airline Volaris plane honored Frida by putting her image on the side of an airbus.

And now, Frida has been immortalized along with Arauz in a new bronze statue.

Made from donated keys, the statue in Puebla City shows Frida wearing her famous goggles and vest, ready to go to work alongside Arauz. Not too surprisingly, during the unveiling ceremony, Frida could be seen sniffing out her likeness.

“Memorable symbols of the strength Mexicans can have when we decide to come together for great causes,” reads the plaque on the statue.

Now eight years old, Frida continues to do her memorable, life-saving work. In the not-too-distant future, she will serve as a mentor to up-and-coming hero dogs, like Evil and Echo, two Belgian Malinois who helped her in the aftermath of the Mexico City earthquake by entering collapsed buildings before she did. If they found someone, Frida would enter and spend no longer than 20 minutes inside the building.

When it’s time for Frida to retire, she’ll spend the rest of her life with someone from SEMAR — and Hernandez hopes it’s him.

“If someone asks me if I would want to take Frida, I would say yes,” he told the Associated Press. “But we will have Frida for a long time yet.”

Photo credit: @FerCanalesF/Twitter

123 comments

Mike R
Mike R12 days ago

Wonderful! Thanks

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Janis K
Janis K13 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Kathy G
Kathy G16 days ago

Thank you

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Kathy G
Kathy G16 days ago

Thank you

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Leo Custer
Leo C17 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Amanda McConnell
Amanda M18 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Amanda McConnell
Amanda M18 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Nicole Heindryckx
Nicole H18 days ago

@ Lajeanne Leveton : Also with the comment of Loredana you are not agreeing. According to you - I presume you have even a better knowledge than all experts together - dogs do not love to work for us. Can you tell me what dog expert, and in what books I could possibly find that ??? ??? I have had 4 dogs in my life, all rescued dogs, and they were all very happy if they could do something to please us.
Why do you think dogs are obeying us. Simple commands like stop, sit down, take it, bring it back, etc.. they do with full enthusiasm. Well, then read a couple of good books. You will notice that dogs, from nature, want to please their owner. If their owners demand them to do something, they don't do it because they don't want to do it, and are just fearful of getting kicked or being beaten. NO NO NO NO NO Dogs DO LOVE to make us happy. And then, just a pet on their heads or body is a reward enough to do it again the next time. And if making us happy is in some cases, doing something for us, we can not do ourselves, they are only too happy to do what is asked from them. Have you ever seen ONE service dog that looks annoyed, afraid, terrified ?? .... No these are all very happy dogs !! If you really want to rectify someone, be sure you are totally right then......

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Nicole Heindryckx
Nicole H18 days ago

@ Lajeanne Leveton : your comments to Czerny A : really I do not understand what you are writing all about !! Did that member make any comparison between these rescue dogs and the poor ones, picked up from the street, or BOUGHT from another country, just to have a big dog eating festival at Yullin ?? My God. One should put each word on a weighing scale before writing it down. Sorry to say, but I do not see your point !!!!!!! Don't you have anything more appropriate to write about this story ??

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Nicole H
Nicole H18 days ago

@ Diane P : Apparently these rescue dogs return to their kennels, instead of going home with their mentors. This is not the case everywhere. And in general, when dogs are returned to the kennel it has its reasons. I'm not a dog expert. But I can understand that going "home" with their mentors appears to be ungrateful or even brutal. On the other hand, I do believe that in those kennels they have the best care you could give them, whereas going home with the mentor could be too difficult for her, especially when there are small children wanting to play, cuddle or petty them. In Belgium, police dogs do not return home either. But the cop has the possibility to go get them out of the kennel for a whole afternoon or a whole day, have big walks, playing, swimming, etc.. When their working career is over, they generally are adopted by their mentors and stay with them for the rest of her life. May be we think that returning home with their mentors to his house each day would be better but I think such decisions are taken after lengthy discussions and that a good nice rest is better for their career than the daily going home, with a certain number of children around her.

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