PETITION TARGETS: Colombian Ministry of National Defense, Colombian National Army, U.S. Army
A brave, strong, and dedicated dog who ventured into the Amazon jungle in search of four missing children stranded after a plane crash found them — and then got left behind.
The four children — aged one year to 13 — are still recuperating in a hospital after surviving for nearly 40 days in the Guaviare rainforest. But the eldest, as soon as she was able to pick up coloring materials, drew a picture of the forest with a tan-and-black dog hovering nearby like a guardian spirit. The children have since told news that the dog accompanied, played with, and guided them for days during their ordeal.
The Colombian National Army has since identified the dog as Wilson, a now 6-year-old Belgian Shepherd who was the strongest of a litter of five puppies and whom they had enlisted to look for the children because he was “strong,” “not afraid” and “very curious” but who went missing after breaking free from his handler in his eagerness to track the children.
While the children are safe now, Wilson is still missing — having been sent into the jungle without a tracker to monitor his location, according to news reports.
And despite commanders’ promises to never leave a fallen comrade behind on the battlefield — they have called off the search for Wilson.
¡Vamos hacer lo que siempre hemos hecho: Salvar vidas con cada misión!
Avanzan las @FuerzasMilCol en la búsqueda de nuestro Comando canino Wilson, que cumpliendo la misión de encontrar los niños en la selva, se alejó de la tropa y se perdió#VamosPorWilson#OperaciónEsperanza pic.twitter.com/GhoL0YsCWV
— Fuerzas Militares de Colombia (@FuerzasMilCol) June 21, 2023
While looking for the children, commanders said that “failure was not an option.” Failure must not be an option in finding Wilson, either.
The search for this valiant dog must continue, and immediate changes must be made to protect Colombian military dogs so this never happens again.
Authorities have said a tracker “may not” have worked given the jungle’s conditions, according to news. But these brave dogs, who work tirelessly in extremely dangerous circumstances for humanity’s benefit, deserve every single chance and protection we can give them.
News also reported that rescuers found a pawprint next to the children’s footprints a full 10 days before the children were found. If Wilson had been wearing a tracker, rescuers would have had a better chance of finding him — and they also may have found the children sooner.
Sign our petition urging the Colombian Ministry of National Defense to authorize continued resources to search for Wilson, to review all aspects of this situation — including handler training and the strength of the dogs’ leads — and to institute immediate changes that will allow real-time tracking of military dogs going into dangerous and unknown terrain. We’re also asking the U.S. Army to use whatever influence they have in their partnership with the Colombian National Army to advocate for the search and rescue of Wilson.