Mission’s Andy Krzus (left) and his eight-year-old Belgian shepherd Nika were part of a 13-member urban search and rescue team made up of four dog handlers and nine Burnaby firefighters who went to the hurricane-ravaged Bahamas. / Submitted Photo

‘Absolutely, utterly destroyed:’ Mission man, dog return from deployment to hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

Andy Krzus and his Belgian shepherd Nika were part of a 13-member urban search and rescue team

After a week-long deployment to the Hurricane Dorian-ravaged Abaco Islands in the Bahamas, Mission resident Andy Krzus is glad to be home.

Krzus and his eight-year-old Belgian shepherd Nika were part of a 13-member urban search and rescue team made up of four dog handlers and nine Burnaby firefighters.

Scouring the wreckage left behind by a Category 5 hurricane was hard work, especially in the high heat and humidity, and the results were not always positive.

“We all hope for the positive results of the search, which means we find people that are still alive. However, going to disaster zones like that quite often will result in doing both, where you find people who have passed, and that’s something that we concentrated on quite a bit this time around,” Krzus said.

A former police officer with the Vancouver Police Department, Krzus is now the owner of Obedience Unleashed Dog Training Inc. and works out of the Mission/Maple Ridge location.

He has owned Nika since she was a puppy and trained her specifically for these situations.

Asked to describe the damage, Krzus said the area was a war zone, adding it looked like a bomb had been dropped on it.

“Absolutely, utterly destroyed. Trees cut in half, houses absolutely pancaked or completely missing.”

It was up to the dogs and their handlers to search through the debris, hoping to find survivors or at least locate the bodies.

Krzus said Nika has searched through collapsed buildings and heavy terrain all her life, but the building rubble still creates a field of safety hazards.


“It’s almost like someone takes the entire contents of a house, puts it in a blender and throws it in front of you and says, ‘Go across.’ That’s what it felt like when we went out there.”

While the dogs worked hard, all the handlers made sure they were kept safe.

“We worked them in shifts. They go in, do some searching and then we give them a break, give them water and put them in the shade.”

While some may consider this kind of work grim, Krzus said people in the area were happy to see them and appreciated their efforts.

“We all hope, when we get deployed, that we can go out there and spend our efforts on the positive aspects of helping out the community, whether we can find some people who are still alive or perhaps recover the ones who have passed. That alone allows the families to have some closure, and that is absolutely huge.”


That is a positive for Krzus, as was helping local dog rescues on the island that were collecting strays off the street.

It wasn’t just stray dogs that the team managed to locate.

“We did manage to find three missing Canadians.”

While they weren’t trapped under rubble, the trio had become displaced by the storm, and the team located them and assisted them to contact their families and the Canadian consulate.

“It was an uplifting moment for the team.”

Now home, Krzus said his experience as a police officer, and the support of the team, help him to cope with the devastation that he saw.

“It’s an unfortunate tragedy that happened and it’s going to take a long time for the people of the Bahamas to recover from it.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Just Posted

Aspiring entrepreneurs invited to pitch ideas at Dragons’ Den auditions

Abbotsford and Vancouver the only Lower Mainland try-out locations

Mission firefighters raise $4,776 for BC Lung Association

19th annual Climb the Wall event took place in Vancouver last week

Fraser Valley Inn and nearby property put up for sale for $8.9 million

With development proposal still before city hall, owners seek to sell downtown Abbotsford landmark

PHOTOS: Top 5 oldest schools in Abbotsford

Check out how some schools looked over 100 years ago

Mission’s Barnsdale wins bronze at BC Winter Games

Speed skater takes home hardware from Fort St. John event

Clothing, jewelry, purses: RCMP ask court about disposal of evidence in Robert Pickton case

Pickton was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years for the murders of six women

Wet’suwet’en herreditary chiefs meet with provincial, federal ministers

Neither party speaking on the groundwork laid for tomorrow’s talks

Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Chief of staff to the B.C. speaker Alan Mullen says situation with demonstrators appears ‘fluid’

MPs to examine privacy implications of facial-recognition technology used by RCMP

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children

Dates back to 2009: Calgary police lay charges in fraud involving semi-trucks

Three people from Calgary are facing charges that include fraud over $5,000

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs optimistic ahead of talks with feds, province

Discussions with provincial and federal governments expected to start later today

‘The project is proceeding’: Horgan resolute in support of northern B.C. pipeline

B.C. premier speaks as talks scheduled with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

BREAKING: Kelowna RCMP to further investigate 12 sexual assault cases, create sexual assault unit

Recommendations come five months after it was revealed 40% of sexual assaults were deemed ‘unfounded’

Most Read