Who Will Rescue

The Saint Bernards?

* The shaggy Saint Bernard is the living symbol of Switzerland.

For centuries, these large dogs rescued avalanche victims and travelers who got lost along a high Alpine pass that connects Switzerland and Italy. But now the 18 dogs living at a travelers' shelter in Great Saint Bernard Pass are being sold because their rescue work has been taken over by helicopters and heat sensors.

"They need a lot of time and energy," said Brother Frederic, one of four monks who cares for the dogs.

Saint Bernards typically weigh more than 150 pounds and eat up to 41/2 pounds of meat each day. The breed and the mountain pass are both named after a saint who sheltered Alpine travelers in the 11th century.

The dogs are excellent rescuers because of their keen noses, strength, sure-footedness and thick coats. Able to pick out narrow and treacherous paths, they they have been credited with saving more than 2,500 lives. But their last rescue was about 50 years ago.

The monks say the new owners must agree to bring the dogs back each summer so that tourists can continue to enjoy them.

Brother Frederic says Saint Bernards are no longer needed in the Alps.