“When the turtles needed him, wildlife rescue dog Saul was on the job and always up for any task”
When a usual cold front blasted Texas with below-freezing temperatures day after day, it wasn’t only the residents who were cold. The coastal sea turtles unaccustomed to frigid water were freezing to death. But thankfully, a German shepherd was there to help save them.
In February 2021, Texas was hit by an arctic storm, Uri, which left much of the state frozen over the course of many days. The warm gulf shores were also affected, which left over 4,300 sea turtles fighting for their life.
Thankfully, K9s 4 Conservation, a non-profit organization that provides sea turtle nest detection dogs in the Coastal Bend region of South Texas, arrived with their wildlife rescue dog, Saul, to help save as many turtles as possible
The sea turtle nightmare began to unfold when the warm gulf water suddenly became unusually cold. The temperature dropped from 80 F degrees to 40 F degrees, leaving thousands of sea turtles “stunned” by the abrupt change in temperature.
Cold-stunned Sea turtles can drown because the cold water causes lethargy in the cold-blooded animals. Stunned turtles are unable to swim and will float to the surface of the water for air. But by the time they reach that point, they may also sink below the surface or be washed ashore. If they’re not rescued, they can suffer health problems and even die.
But the turtles suffering through storm Uri had a four-legged hero named Saul arrive on the scene to help them. Saul is a rescue dog who can sniff out stunned sea turtles so that they can be saved. As he runs along the jetty, he sniffs along searching for turtles, that his handler can then help save.
Because of Saul and other dogs searching that day, turtle after turtle was pulled from the cold water along the shore and jetty areas of the beach. It’s not an easy job because the dogs must differentiate the turtles from the other sea life and even dead fish that have washed up on the shore.
According to ABC News, about “a third of the cold-stunned sea turtles found along the Texas coast during the deadly winter freeze survived following a massive rescue effort by experts and volunteers, who were themselves struggling without power at home.”
Of course, Saul and the other dogs played a huge role in helping humans locate the turtles. Without their training and hard work, it would be impossible to save as many as they did. The dogs are true heroes.
Sadly, on March 21, 2022, Saul crossed the rainbow bridge following emergency surgery. Prior to his passing, he was a healthy happy boy working, doing what he loved, according to the K9’s 4 Conservation Facebook page.
Our hearts go out to K9’s 4 Conservation and Saul’s handler. He was a special dog and will certainly be missed. Please share awareness about how German shepherds help with wildlife rescue with your friends.