Longtime search dog who helped Surfside rescue efforts retires

Fort Lauderdale’s Rit had initially retired in January but returned for condo collapse

Rit, a labrador retriever for Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue, actually came out of retirement earlier this year to work on the rescue efforts after the Surfside condominium collapse.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Often times when we think of first responders, we think of police, firefighters and EMTs, but there are other members of their teams that can be overlooked.

“Today is an opportunity for us to recognize one of our four-legged members for a job well done,” said Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr of Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue.

She was talking about 10-year-old Labrador retriever Rit, a search dog. After eight years of work, Rit is officially retiring and will live at home with his handler, Capt. Rolando Busto.

“When we started this I never thought we would ever respond to anything as close as Surfside or Hurricane Michael,” Busto said. “It was just an idea and we knew the potential.”

Technically, Rit retired in January, but when the Surfside condo collapse happened in June, he and Busto were among the first on the scene.

“Within I would say 20 minutes, we were up on the pile searching,” Busto said. “He was the first dog that I brought out that we searched with.”

Rit has had three deployments with South Florida’s search and rescue teams but now he’ll get to enjoy his retirement — and watch his pal Guinness take over some of his duties.

“Rit’s retirement is he’s home, he’s in the pool, he’s still chasing balls, it’s his favorite thing to do, and trying to keep Guinness from bothering him too much,” Busto said.

About the Author:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.