‘Dogcam’ turns canines into modern-day Lassie

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Dogs used by rescuers in disaster zones around the world are to be kitted out with the latest wireless cameras to assist them in their search for survivors.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s urban search and rescue (USAR) is trialling the “dogcam” which could be a breakthrough in rescue techniques that would leave fictional rescue dog, Lassie, in the shade.

The portable all-terrain wireless system (Paws) consists of a specially-adapted headcam and harness which are fitted to the search dogs that are able to enter collapsed buildings where humans cannot reach. The Hampshire service has been chosen to trial the equipment by the developer, UK firm Wood & Douglas, as the USAR is regularly scrambled to disasters, including the New Zealand earthquake and Japanese tsunami.

Dog handler Robin Furniss, who has been testing Paws at a simulated disaster zone at Fort Widley, Portsmouth, said: “It may prove useful in the future as it not always possible for firefighter to enter a collapsed building. It would allow firefighters outside the building to see what situation the dog is working in and the position of the casualty, when the dog is working out of sight.”