DENVER (CBS4) – Rescue dogs from across the country traveled to Denver this weekend to test their life-saving skills in disaster situations.

Outside Denver International Airport sits one of the largest full rubble sights in the United States.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

This weekend it serves as a testing arena for nine disaster canines.

“They are being evaluated on the canines being able to locate and find a live victim,” said Todd Gilgren from the Colorado Urban Search and Rescue Task Force.

Gilgren says the dogs are from all over the country and range from Labradors to Springer Spaniels.

Each dog trains about 30 hours a week for a year-and-a-half before test day.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The dogs’ job is to find the six people hidden in the rubble within 20 minutes, mimicking a real life disaster scenario.

“We also put in a number of distractions from food to a number of critters,” said Gilgren.

If a dog does get distracted or fails to locate a victim in time, it’s an automatic fail.

“He will alert by barking repetitively until the handler gets to his location,” said Gilgren. “Any false hit is an automatic fail.”

The test is designed to be difficult since these dogs will be used in all kinds of disasters disasters ranging from tornadoes, to Hurricane Katrina and even Colorado’s devastating floods last fall.

“They can deploy within the country or anywhere in the world if needed,” said Gilgren.

Testing at the rubble sight continues on Sunday.

The area outside DIA has been used as a testing ground for the rescue dogs for more than 10 years.


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