Once abandoned, Baekgu becomes first honorary rescue dog after saving missing woman
[Sept 9, 2021: Hwang Dong-hee]
Baekgu sits in front of its new house during a ceremony to appoint it as an honorary rescue dog by South Chungcheong Province. (CREDIT: Yonhap)
A dog named Baekgu has become Korea's first honorary 119 rescue dog after playing a critical role in the search for a missing elderly woman.
According to the South Chungcheong Provincial Government and emergency officials, the dog was given the title Monday for helping rescue workers find its owner, a 93-year-old dementia patient who fell unconscious in a field, 2 kilometers from her home, Aug. 25.
The woman's daughter, surnamed Shim, filed a missing person report to police after being unable to contact her mother for hours. They checked CCTV footage and saw Kim leave the village at dawn. But despite search efforts with volunteers, they could not find her for nearly two days.
The dog stayed by its owner's side, keeping her warm during the rain. Rescue workers were eventually able to pinpoint her location after detecting the dog's body temperature using a drone with a thermal camera.
At around 3 p.m. on Aug. 26, 40 hours after her disappearance, a small heat signal was detected on the search drone's thermal camera ― it was the body temperature of Baekgu.
Rescue workers found the woman at the location and brought her to a nearby hospital immediately. They said the drone could not detect her because her body temperature had dropped and it was raining heavily. She is now recovering after being treated for hypothermia.
Baekgu sits next to Shim, left, in front of its new house during the ceremony for the dog, Sept. 6. (CREDIT: Yonhap)
"Baekgu was an abandoned dog and became part of our family when we saved him from attacks by another dog three years ago," said Shim. "I am really thankful; it seems he returned our favor."
South Chungcheong Province Governor Yang Seung-jo also thanked Baekgu for the "incredible miracle."
Last April, the National Fire Agency enacted regulations to allow animals to become honorary rescue ambassadors as a reward for playing a big role in saving people's lives.
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