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Tampa search dog helps in Puerto Rico following earthquakes

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa Fire Rescue Lt. Brian Smithey and his partner K9 partner Patron are back in Tampa following the Puerto Rico earthquakes. 

“Our primary mission was for search and rescue for anyone that may be trapped or missing,” said Smithey. 

According to the United States Geological Survey, more than 1,280 earthquakes have crippled Puerto Rico since late December. More than two dozen of those have been a magnitude of 4.5 or greater. 

Just days after the new year, the K9 search specialist and Patron were deployed to the island and quickly began sifting through the rubble, searching for signs of life. 

“Any type of structure that goes down, any type of collapse and we can not find people where it is not safe for us as humans to go on that rubble pile, Patron will go up there and locate them and bark right where they are at,” Smithey said.

Smithey, a 20-year veteran with Tampa Fire Rescue, tells 8 On Your Side now that he is home, he is still thinking about Puerto Rico. Smithey even left equipment on the island just in case his team needs to make a quick return. 

“Many of their structures have been compromised and if another aftershock or whatever has the potential to bring some of those down and people are attempting to live in some of those structures. So there is a worry if that happens, we may be needed. And if we can help them in the future, we hope to be able to do that,” said Smithey.

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