If you ask anyone where they were or what they were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001, they’ll be able to tell you everything in detail. Without a doubt, the events that preceded and directly followed the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have been deeply embedded in our nation’s collective consciousness.
While every American is deeply proud of the heroism displayed by firefighters, police, and emergency medical technicians, the brave, dedicated, and tireless search and rescue dogs truly capture the hearts of millions.
Over 300 dogs traveled to search, serve, protect, and comfort the professionals and volunteers tasked with recovery efforts. The last known survivor at ground zero was found 27 hours after the collapse of the towers by a search and rescue (SAR) dog. Once it was ruled statistically impossible for any victims to be found alive, specially trained dogs searched for human remains.
The Handlers of Search and Rescue Dogs
The handlers of the search and rescue dogs of 9/11 were deployed quickly after the attacks. They worked 12-hour shifts and then went through a decontamination process. They had their paw pads cleaned and tended to if there were any cuts or abrasions, and their eyes and ears were washed out. Because their skills were instrumental, veterinary professionals were on-site to ensure their health, wellness, and stamina.
Search and rescue dogs are vital in the wake of natural and manmade disasters. Not only can they travel to places that humans can’t easily go, but their unique senses of smell and hearing are absolute assets on-site.
Unfortunately, search and rescue dogs are fully or partially exposed to hazardous conditions. Uneven terrain, piles of rubble and debris, fires, broken glass, gasoline, and airborne toxins (like asbestos) pose serious threats to a dog’s immediate and long-term health.
Searching for signs of life is mentally and physically taxing – for everyone involved. For search and rescue dogs, it’s their mission in life. To keep motivation strong, some handlers would stage a “mock find” so search and rescue dogs could feel successful at their jobs.
They’re All Heroes
Every single dog who assisted in the efforts at ground zero and the Pentagon deserves a badge of honor. Check out the Facebook page for Search and Rescue Dogs of 9/11. Until then, we highly praise the work of the following canine heroes:
Nikie, a K9 Disaster Relief therapy dog who comforted workers.
Bretagne, the Golden Retriever who claimed the title of the last surviving SAR dog of 9/11 (she was euthanized in 2016 and was honored by emergency professionals and taps). She worked at ground zero for 10 days and later assisted in rescue efforts for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Morgan, an English Springer Spaniel from Staten Island who excelled in the detection of human remains.
Moxie was trained to find survivors, but her skills at honing in on remains was equally invaluable.
Red, a live-find and cadaver dog, worked for the Pentagon for 11 days.
We wish we could list all the search and rescue dogs who positively altered the course of the recovery effort. Our veterinarians and staff members honor their bravery, endurance, and dedication to the cause and will never forget their heroism.
Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about search and rescue dogs and all their remarkable feats.