Carpinteria Search and Rescue Pair Deployed to Turkey
Bob George and Shadow Searched
Two Weeks for Survivors
By Callie Fausey | March 16, 2023
Read all of the entries in our “Pets & Animals, 2023 Edition” cover here.
At midnight on February 6, two Carpinteria residents made the overseas journey to Adıyaman, Turkey, where a 7.8-magnitude earthquake caused widespread devastation earlier that morning.
Bob George and his dog, Shadow, were deployed as part of the L.A. County Fire Department’s Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR), ready to seek out survivors buried beneath the rubble.
George, a military veteran, and his partner, Shadow, a former stray turned search-and-rescue canine, have been paired up since 2017. Their assignment to Turkey marked their first international deployment.
When George first landed, he described the situation as like a scene “out of a movie.” He recounted huge crevices in the street, cars piled under rubble, and thousands of demolished buildings. “The stench of death is everywhere,” he texted his wife, Amanda.
George worked in freezing conditions, without the comfort of hot showers, a proper bathroom, or even coffee. It was just a taste of what victims in the region have experienced as they try to recover from the destruction.
“This is what they train for,” Amanda said in an interview with the Independent while her husband was still overseas. “It really takes a certain type of person to be able to do this type of service…. [Bob] really is a hero to my family. We’re just so proud of him.”
The other half of the heroic duo is Shadow, a 9-year-old black German shepherd mix, whom the Georges lovingly refer to as a “nut” who goes berserk for tennis balls. Shadow is a working dog right now, but Amanda explained that once he retires, he will become their family pet.
“I’m not really sure how that’s gonna be because I’m sure he’s still going to be quite perky,” Amanda said. “But, you know, he’s a great mix. We have three young children 10 and under, and he is phenomenal with the kids,” she said.
Shadow was trained through the Search Dog Foundation (SDF) in Santa Paula, which takes in dogs deemed “unadoptable” due to their high energy or high toy drive and uses those traits to teach them how to search for live human scent in disaster areas. Shadow was one of the seven SDF-trained canines that were deployed to Turkey this year.
“Once they get to the disaster site, then they’re just ready to go,” Amanda said of the canine teams. “And my husband said … because everyone’s wearing their search-and-rescue gear, that’s when Shadow gets so excited, because he knows he’s going to search. That’s his favorite part of the job.”
Shadow was picked up as a stray in 2016, and after his former owners never came to claim him, he was referred to the SDF canine recruitment team. In 2017, Shadow was teamed up with George, and the two have been inseparable ever since.
“He’s definitely his sidekick, 24/7,” Amanda said. “Every time he comes out of his crate, even for little things like walking on a leash, it’s all obedience and behavior training. So when he is doing a search or in an environment like Turkey, he is so well-trained and so obedient, that he listens to Bob’s commands.”
Unfortunately, over the course of their two weeks in Turkey, Shadow did not detect the scent of any live victims. But George and Shadow’s efforts were at least able to give families the opportunity to start the grieving process.
“Hopefully it gives them some closure,” Amanda said, adding that other American teams were able to save multiple survivors in the area.
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