A dog search and rescue charity from County Down is traveling to the disaster zone in Turkey to assist in search efforts following Monday's devastating earthquakes. 

K9 Search and Rescue NI, a self-funded charity that has been running for the past five years, set off for Turkey on Friday after receiving the go-ahead from the Turkish Government on Thursday. 

Ryan Gray, who will read the charity's search teams in Turkey, said in a statement that the charity was on standby all week waiting for the go-ahead from the Turkish Government. 

"This is what we train for. The dogs we are sending are USAR dogs (Urban Search and Rescue) and specialize in detecting people in collapsed building structures," he said in a statement.

The charity's search team will be accompanied by two USAR dogs, Max and Delta, who will be imbedded with Turkish Search and Rescue Team ANDA Arama Kurtarma during their time in Turkey. 

They will also join teams from EVOLSAR - a European association of volunteer rescue teams - as part of their search and rescue operations. 

"We've trained in California, at the UK fire service college, and due to train in Kosovo next month. We're a team that is hungry to learn from everyone, and we like to think we're one of the most professional search and rescue dog teams in the UK," Gray said. 

"It's fantastic what the dogs can do, I have no doubt when we go out there that we'll be making a very positive difference." 

Gray added that the search and rescue team will get "straight to work" in Turkey, adding that the mission is time-sensitive. 

"Every minute that passes can be the difference between life and death," he said. 

The charity has worked in Ireland, Scotland, and Northern Ireland over the past five years and assisted in rescue efforts following the devastating explosion at a gas station in Creeslough, County Donegal, last October. 

Gray, who leads a team of eight dogs and 21 rescue workers, has 14 years of search and rescue experience and spent time working for the coastguard. 

Gray encouraged people to support the charity, which is self-funded and relies on public donations. 

"We would be grateful of any support in the coming days and weeks," he said. 

Click here to donate to the charity's campaign.