Not all heroes wear capes. One of the most popular rescue workers looking for survivors in Mexico’s devastating earthquake wears goggles, a harness and booties — one on each of her four paws.
Frida, a 7-year-old Labrador retriever in the Mexican navy’s canine unit, has become a social media star, although she is just one of 15 dogs deployed in search-and-rescue efforts following the 7.1 quake Tuesday.
Her heroic efforts, along with her work uniform, have helped provide hope and a rare bit of levity to the tragedy that has resulted in the deaths of at least 286 people.
The navy tweeted a collage of photos featuring Frida last week, celebrating her 52 rescues from numerous natural disasters over the course of her career. The post received more than 5,000 retweets and cemented her rock star status.
Frida helped detect the body of a police officer when an earthquake struck the state of Oaxaca two weeks ago. Now her handlers in Mexico City hope her skills will help them as they search through rubble there, including an elementary school that has been the center of much media attention.
In total, only 12 of the 52 people Frida has detected over the years were found alive. Her handler, Israel Arauz Salinas, told the Los Angeles Times that because of Frida’s age, her much younger canine co-workers, Evil and Echo, usually go into collapsed buildings first. If they detect someone, Frida is sent in to confirm.
The dogs bark if they detect signs of life. If they find a corpse, they stop suddenly, then carefully proceed, he said.
Frida’s fan base is strong on social media, where some have jokingly called for her to run for president. One suggested she replace painter Diego Rivera on the 500-peso note.
But the general feeling is that everything she has done fully illustrates why dogs are man’s best friend.