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Rescue Group Gets Ready to Send Sniffer Dog Team to Iran - 2003-12-26

An international rescue dog organization is gearing up to fly specially trained sniffer dogs to Iran to help search for survivors in the earthquake zone.

The International Rescue Dog Organization [IRO] is preparing to leave for Iran but is waiting for official permission from the government in Tehran. Spokeswoman Christiana Geritzer says the IRO has plenty of experience in helping earthquake victims.

"We have nine dogs and 15 people waiting for permission to go," he said. "[Our workers] were in 1999 in Turkey and Taiwan and Greece and in 2001 India and 2003 Algeria."

Ms. Geritzer says, in Turkey, survivors were found a week after the quake.

Several European countries, including Germany, Spain and Belgium, also offered immediate help in response to a plea for help by Tehran.

A powerful earthquake struck the ancient city of Bam in southeastern Iran on Friday, killing thousands and destroying most of the city. The rescue dog organization is working with the United Nations and its specialized agencies responsible for providing emergency aid to earthquake-stricken areas. The IRO is a worldwide organization based in Bischofstetten, Austria. It is a successor to the International Federation of Rescue Dogs Association founded in 1970 by an American and an Austrian.