the Civil Protection of Haute-Saône is honoring its search dog for missing persons

Haute-Saône Civil Protection recently lost one of its own. Fiji, an 11-year-old Labrador girl died. The dog specializes in finding missing people, or finding ruins. His departure left a great deal of sorrow. And reveals more of the usefulness of these animals being very close to their owner, both volunteers.

With great sadness the Civil Protection of Haute-Saône mourns the loss in Fiji, a search and rescue Labrador dog, killed at the age of 11 due to illness.

On their facebook page, Civil Protection volunteers described their travel companion with pain and great respect. “Goodbye Fiji and thank you for all you have done for us”.

Fiji was the first dog in a family, with Nathalie and Renzo Zanchetta, president of Civil Protection in the rural department of Haute-Saône.

The dog has been working on the farm since 2013. “Fiji was the first dog on the team. He has a gift for research. He taught us everything. Versatile, he’s good at tracking people as he searches for debris. She’s a dog girl who knows how to test if she’s right ” testified with pride Renzo Zanchetta.

“What stays in my memory is him because he never stopped. In his first search, he did a wonderful job. He is so cruel. ” testified Nathalie Zanchetta training her dog in training. “It takes about two years to train such a dog”. Hours and hours of exercise, with a minimum exercise per week for Fiji.

Between Fiji and her master Nathalie, there is a long line and a lot of love and respect.
“We create bonds of trust between man and dog to best accomplish the mission entrusted to us. In search of people, tracking, the dog is led. He has talent. The invisible things, it’s the dog that sees them, we have to ignore the rest “ recalls Nathalie, life secretary and one of the Civil Protection volunteers in Haute-Saône.

Nathalie and Fiji march in Paris for the 50th anniversary of Civil Protection.

Fiji was decorated at the end of 2021, for all its years of good and loyal service as a search and rescue dog, with the Civil Protection “Grand Gold” medal.

Fiji and Nathalie are a couple, there is a symbiosis between them. One has the impression that there is an electric cable between the master and the dog. Fiji is a unique Labrador, he is the dog of his life.

Renzo Zanchetta, President of Civil Protection in Haute-Saône

Fiji has not been on the pitch for several months. “We want him to be happy in his retirement, unfortunately that’s not the case”.

Fiji has participated in nearly forty operational searches for missing persons, in judicial requisition, for the benefit of the investigations of the National Police and the Gendarmerie of Haute-Saône and the Belfort Territory. It mainly operates in the city. It is part of the worldwide relief body that is likely to intervene abroad in an earthquake for example.

In Franche-Comté, the female dog is called most of the time when the canine group is not with the police. “I remember one day he saw a runaway teenager, he had no choice, Fiji accompanied him to his house” Enzo Zanchetta remembers having fun.

Searches made by these special dogs are not always possible to find victims or missing people. “It can be frustrating, sometimes the dog stops in front of the bus stop where the person is riding … or at the water’s edge. Even if you can’t always get to the victim, it usually allows investigators to have directions.” added the owner from Fiji.

After disappearing in Fiji, Popsy, a 3-year-old Labrador dog, took over. The two dogs have been together for several months. “We will look for these dogs in the fields when they are three months old. We start training them by playing.This is the training method. Then the dog wants to please his master ” explanation by Renzo Zanchetta.

These search dogs are a unique skill within the branches of Civil Protection. Nathalie continues the adventure with a Labrador girl. Labrador or Malinois, these tracking dogs are also available in the canine brigades of the gendarmerie or the police. Popsy will follow in the footsteps of her predecessor, Fiji, with the departments of Haute-Saône and the Territoire de Belfort as areas of its intervention.

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