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Associated Press

5 firefighter dogs who rescued people from natural disasters are honored in Ecuador as they retire

A dog named Ares licks its handler during a retirement ceremony for firefighter work dogs in Quito, Ecuador, Monday, May 20, 2024. The retired dogs were adopted by local residents. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Five rescue dogs were honored by Ecuador’s Fire Department on Monday at a ceremony formally retiring them after seven years of service and turning them over to new adoptive owners.

Lt. Col. Esteban Cardenas said the dogs — Ares, Kratos, Zeus, Titan and Gaia — were part of the first class of canines used by the department's rescue unit, which works with German shepherds and golden retrievers.

Cardenas recalled some of their feats, including aiding in finding survivors of earthquakes and landslides across Ecuador and abroad, including a mission to Mexico in 2017.

He said veterinarian reports had suggested it was time to retire the five dogs.

“Today for us is a day of mixed feelings. We really would not want them to leave. We would have liked to have them with us in our ranks,” Cardenas said.

The dogs’ new owners were selected carefully after meeting certain requirements, he said.

Gaia’s new owner, Valeria Zevallos, said she was amazed by her new pet’s previous career of saving lives.

“Many adventures await us now. After her work adventures, family adventures,” she said.

Firefighters attend a retirement ceremony for their work dogs in Quito, Ecuador, Monday, May 20, 2024. The retired dogs were adopted by local residents. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Firefighter dog Gaia arrives for her retirement ceremony, along with other dogs, in Quito, Ecuador, Monday, May 20, 2024. The retired firefighter dogs were adopted by local residents. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Gaia demonstrates her skills at a retirement ceremony for dogs that served with firefighters in Quito, Ecuador, Monday, May 20, 2024. The retired firefighter dogs were adopted by local residents. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
A firefighter says goodbye to Kratos at a retirement ceremony for dogs that served with firefighters in Quito, Ecuador, Monday, May 20, 2024. The retired dogs were adopted by local residents. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Firefighter dog Zeus is awarded a medal in gratitude for his services at a retirement ceremony for dogs that served with firefighters in Quito, Ecuador, Monday, May 20, 2024. The retired dogs were adopted by local residents. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)