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Elite Search & Rescue K9 Sidelined by Hit-and-Run Driver

( Xander, a 2 1/2 year-old Belgian Malinois, is showing his frustration after weeks of doctor-ordered confinement to his crate. He is a dog of action, a dog with a job, and he’s just not cut out for the sedentary life.
Xander is a FEMA-certified Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) live-find K9, meaning he’s been trained to locate living victims trapped under rubble as a result of accidents or natural disasters. He and his handler, Trisha Danula are part of the elite Search and Rescue team Virginia Task Force 1 (VA-TF1), which is currently deployed to Nepal assisting with rescue and recovery efforts following the devastating quake that struck the region on April 25th, 2015 killing over 8,000 people and injuring more than 19,000 others.

Shortly before VA-TF1 was called into action, Xander was struck and severely injured by a hit-and-run driver. Trisha, a professional firefighter with the Fairfax County, VA Fire Department, was able to quickly transport Xander to a veterinarian for emergency care. The injuries to his right front leg were severe. He required major surgery requiring a long metal plate and several screws to support the substantial break in his leg.

The surgery to repair the damage has been successful, thus far. Xander has a long road ahead of him before he can again meet the rigorous physical standards required of a USAR K9, including months of rehabilitation and an additional surgery to remove the hardware from his leg once it’s healed.

As a firefighter interested in Search&Rescue operations, Trisha adopted Xander on her own and trained him during her off-time to achieve their FEMA certification. Xander is not only Trisha’s K9 partner, he’s also a member of the family. Trisha expresses her frustration that she and Xander were rendered unable to help with the ongoing rescue efforts in Nepal. She goes on to say how disappointing it is to train for years with the goal of helping to save lives, only to be denied the opportunity by someone else’s carelessness.

As Trisha’s personal dog, Xander’s care is solely her own responsibility. In a gesture of goodwill and appreciation, Trisha’s friends and co-workers have started a GoFundMe account to help with Xander’s veterinary expenses which are estimated to top $5000 before he’s returned to full working status.

Virginia Task Force 1 (VA-TF1) team members are still deployed to the region and just recently experienced an aftershock that again rocked the area on May 12th. The 7.3 magnitude aftershock alone would have been considered an “major” earthquake, but paled in comparison to the initial 7.8 magnitude quake—a temblor that was 5.5 times stronger than the 7.3 aftershock.

Trisha’s and everyone else’s thoughts and prayers are now with her teammates and the people of Nepal, and she hopes that she and Xander will be ready when disaster strikes again.

Xander’s GoFundMe page can be found at:

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