Elaine Faber

Mind Candy Mysteries

Archive for August, 2023

Dorian’s Search and Rescue Dog, SAM

Monday, August 7th, 2023

Based on a true account written by a rescue worker and his dog, the following is an ‘outtake’ from my cozy mystery novel, Black Cat’s Legacy that never made it into the final version. Black Cat’s Legacy is FREE at Amazon 08-07-23 through 08-11-23. http://tinyrul.com/lrvevgm

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Dorian and her Search and Rescue dog, Sam, are called to Oklahoma City following the bombing of the Alfred Murrah Bldg in 1995.

Dorian’s Search and Rescue team heard of the Oklahoma bombing and immediately flew from Northern CA to Oklahoma to assist in search and rescue operations.

At the bombing site, Dorian and Sam were taken to the nursery area where day care was provided for the workers’ babies and toddlers.  It was an area hardest hit by the blast and there were few survivors among the children who had been in attendance that day.

Where children once played as their parents worked, a pile of rubble stood several stories high with twisted beams, shards of glass, aluminum, wood and chunks of metal and concrete slabs protruding in all directions.  Beneath the rubble laid the remains of the babies and their caregivers.

Sam and other rescue dogs were directed to cross the rubble to search for any sign of victims, or should God be merciful, a survivor.  The rescue dogs could wiggle into places where grown men could not reach. Sam was trained to whine when he found a dead body and bark if he found a survivor. On that sad day he did not bark….

When one of the dogs gave the alert by either a bark or whine, the frantic rescue workers would concentrate on removing blocks of concrete or twisted steel in a rescue attempt. Unfortunately, when the victim was reached, inevitably an orange plastic body bag would be passed down the line of workers into the pit of twisted rubble. The little broken body of a child would be lifted out and placed into a basket and sober rescue workers would respectfully carry it to the morgue truck where parents waited and prayed for news of their child. The same sad scene was repeated throughout the day and the next, as multiple children were located. Each time a body was brought up from beneath the rubble, a mother’s heart would soar with hope and then plunge into despair when her child was identified.

Further into the building and away from the demolished section of building, a rescue dog located a survivor, buried deep in the rubble. Attempts were underway to clear the area where the young woman was trapped beneath mounts of cement and rubble. There came a call from the temporary command station, announcing that everyone must evacuate the site because another incendiary device had been discovered. The rescuers explained to the victim they had to leave her but would return as soon as they were able. She begged them not to leave her alone. Sadly, they left her trapped beneath the rubble, not knowing if they would be able to return or if another blast would ultimately take her life.  Imagine her terror as the hours passed, realizing that rescue was near but at any moment, she could die. It was several hours before the bomb scare was declared a false alarm and the rescuers returned and successfully removed her from her cement and metal prison. Thankfully, the young woman survived.

Pieces of falling debris made the area unsafe and Dorian and her fellow teammates wore helmets while they crawled among the dangerous rubble directing their dogs back and forth.  Sam went repeatedly into areas felt to be unsafe for human rescuers. Each time he ventured into such an area, he put his life at risk for the sake of those people trapped below.

By the end of the day, Sam was coughing and sneezing from the dust and pollution in the air. Though Dorian wore a mask to cover her face and protective gear for her hands and feet, Sam worked all day breathing the foul air and walking on sharp shards of concrete rubble without the benefit of any protective gear.  In the afternoon, Sam was sent to a mobile SPCA van.  Volunteer veterinarian staff washed his eyes and ears and put healing lotion on his cracked and bleeding feet.

Though Dorian and Sam would have stayed longer, the directors of the rescue mission felt the physical and emotional drain was too much for a dog and handler to volunteer longer than a single day.  Many other volunteers and dogs from across the country came and took their place in the following days, repeating their rescue efforts until the rubble was cleared and the last body was removed.

Sam was a true unsung hero as he risked his life in an attempt to save others on one of America’s darkest days.