it remains to be seen what lingering, chronic affects could haunt our canine heroes in months or years to come.
“They were covered in soot, asbestos,” says John Stevenson, president of North Shore Animal League America, operating a canine treatment center at the WTC. “There were so many toxins that it’s unreal more of them didn’t get sick.”
Let’s take a look at one pooch (who was recently written into the Guinness Book of Worlds Records as the “Most Celebrated Dog in the World”), a WTC rescuer who’s not holding up so well these days, according to recent reports…
“Am I killing the only thing I really got left that I love in the world?”
Those were the words Capt. Scott Shields uttered aloud as he walked into “Ground Zero” with his canine half. But, like each of the SAR handlers, Capt. Shields knew the risks and still pushed onward with his highly-experienced Golden Retriever “Bear”.
The team was operating with Marine Safety Service, a private security company that helps guard New York Harbor. In the months of recovery following 9/11, Bear helped locate dozens of bodies, including that of beloved FDNY Chief Peter Ganci, says the New York Post. (And if the golden snout in the picture looks familiar, your eyes don’t deceive you; Bear has graced our pages more than once before. See WTC Dogs Page 1 and the WTC Yearbook.)
However, Bear’s heroics came at a price.
“Bear worked tirelessly for months, and until this terrible tragedy he had never been sick a day in his life,” remarks Capt. Shields.
In January, in order to help with the WTC dogs’ healthcare, Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI – Anaheim, California) offered 300 free one-year policies to all SAR dogs involved in the Sept. 11 efforts, including Bear. But last week, Bear was denied coverage, based on the assessment that his ills fell under the category of “old age disabilities” that are not covered. Bear’s unpaid veterinary bills amounted to $3,000.
“This isn’t personal,” said VPI’s vice president of claims Elizabeth Hodgkins last week. “Bear just didn’t meet the requirements.”
So far, 71 owners have filed claims for their dogs, Ms. Hodgkins said, and only five have been rejected.
But as soon as word leaked out that “the WTC’s first rescue dog” was hosed, a handful of contributors stepped up, willing to cover the pooch’s vet expenses and provide lifetime medical care.
In the end, Dr. Jack Stephens, CEO and founder of VPI, said he made a mistake and announced that his firm will pay for Bear.
Dr. Chaitman says: “We all have an obligation to these dogs. They really are like public servants and we should take care of them.”
In a disaster response of unprecedented magnitude, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) deployed 25 of its 28 nationwide task forces to the WTC and the Pentagon. In all, there were 80 FEMA-certified dogs at work. The effort was joined by the NYC Police K9 Corps, as well as some 300 search dogs from around the country. And don’t make the mistake of overlooking the Port Authority dogs, airport security dogs and therapy dogs who contributed immeasurably.
Revisiting a place they’ll never forget,
FEMA US&R Task Force 1 members “Hawk” and Cathy Schiltz take a moment to reflect at Ground Zero in New York, which they haven’t seen since last September. Hawk, an Australian Shepherd, never found any survivors, only the remains of dozens of victims. Says Ms. Schiltz: “Sometimes he would look at me as if to say, ‘Sorry.’ ” (Photo: Lauren Hobart / FEMA)
full article here
Coby and Guinness two labrador retrievers — searched tirelessly through the rubble of the World Trade Center 10 years ago before returning home to Southern California and, eventually, retirement at their handlers’ Highland home.
Coby was 6 when he was deployed to the WTC site with Redlands Battalion Chief David Graves.
Both of these dogs worked for an even larger and more crowded area than they were trained for, they searched for 11 days in 12 hour shifts. There reward was a nap or a chew toy
Over the years Cody lost his hearing but continued working with hand signals. Guiness had been trained for wilderness search and recovery before joining Riverside Task Force 6.
The massive pile of wreckage was so dangerous multiple times it was cleared of searchers because of fear of more collapse.
Coby has sinced passed on but not before finding 18 to 20 people in this human holocaust at Ground Zero. One can only imagine there is a reserved spot in heaven for such heroism.
Named for a mythical hunter and a constellation, search and rescue dog Orion has become a star in his old age.
The golden retriever, who lives in Vacaville with owner and handler Robert Macaulay, was one of more than 100 search and rescue dogs sent by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to New York City to help locate victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center. Now 13 years old, Orion and the 14 other 9/11 search and rescue dogs surviving a decade later are featured in a book, “Retrieved,” by photographer Charlotte Dumas, scheduled for publication this month.
He and Orion participated in the 9/11 search as volunteers with the Oakland Urban Search and Rescue Task Force, one of eight such groups in California. It was Orion’s first collapsed-building assignment. Because the dog had just passed the first of two certification tests, Macaulay said, they weren’t sent until two weeks after the attack.
“By that time,” he said, “we knew we were looking only for remains.”
Orion found three sets of remains.
His most successful search was of an outdoor patio area, 10 stories up.
“There was so much scent coming up the side of the building, I feared he might go over the edge,” Macaulay said.
Dumas, 34, said in a telephone interview that much of her previous work focused on fine art portraits of working animals, including police dogs and horses. She was researching a project on military dogs returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan when she learned about the dogs of 9/11. She took the dogs sent by FEMA as her domain and photographed the 15 that were still living from March through May of this year. Three of those dogs have since died, she said.
On one hand, she said, these dogs are just like the average dog, but as working animals, they exhibit a higher degree of concentration.
“They have a higher sense of responsibility,” Dumas said. “They’re not as carefree as most animals. They have a very serious side.”
Macaulay, a transportation and land-use planner with the Solano Transportation Authority, grew up in Reno and attributes his interest in search and rescue work to his experience as a Boy Scout.
“It’s about being prepared and citizenship, being a good member of society,” he said. “It’s how I can give back.”
Macaulay has trained dogs for both wilderness and structural search and rescue. He initially volunteered with the Sacramento Urban Search and Rescue Task Force. He and Orion’s predecessor, Quasar, participated in rescue efforts following the April 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
Macaulay and Orion also went to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, although because of the deep floodwaters, he said, search opportunities were limited.
Macaulay and Orion’s nephew, 4-year-old Helios, currently volunteer with the Menlo Park Urban Search and Rescue Task Force.
Retired, Orion no longer participates in official searches.
“But part of the bargain is that even when he is retired, I try not to let him know that,” Macaulay said. “He still goes out on training.”
For being the age equivalent of a human about 95 years old, “he’s still darn spry and active,” Macaulay said.
Dumas said it has been gratifying to see the public’s interest in these dogs, as word has circulated about the book.
Like Orion, most of the dogs went on to have long careers after 9/11, Dumas said.
“Now, after 10 years,” she said, “they get their moment to shine.”
WOBURN (CBS) – Only a handful search and rescue dogs deployed to Ground Zero are still alive, ten years after 9/11.
One of them is Moxie, a 13-year-old chocolate lab in retirement in Winthrop.
Her owner Mark Aliberti says she’s losing her hearing and her vision isn’t great, but it was her strong sense of smell that got her working on 9/11.
“These dogs are air scent dogs, which means they go out and sniff the air and they work their way in to the scent,” Aliberti told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz. “I’d tell her to go find and she’d search and search and search. If she found somebody or found scent that she’s interested in, she’s trained to penetrate as much as she can, get as close as she can. When she can’t get any closer, she’s trained to start barking and continually bark and just stay there until I join her.”
COLUMBIA — Tuff walks toward her owner with slightly swollen hips, her hind legs wobbling slowly as she moves. Her elbows are calloused, and her brow and mouth peppered with gray hair.
But Tuff, 12, doesn’t stop watching Tom Andert for more than a second, a sign of her unwavering loyalty.
“Everything I can think of good in my life is because of Tuff,” Andert said, his eyes tearing up as he pats the chocolate Labrador.
Andert met his wife through Tuff. He got his job as an office manager at Horton Animal Hospital in the Forum Shopping Center thanks in part to Tuff. And he’s made many of his friends because of Tuff.
On the day of the Sept. 11 attacks, Andert and Tuff traveled to New York with Missouri Task Force 1, a Boone County-based search-and-rescue group that was dispatched to ground zero by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They worked for more than a week, searching for survivors in the rubble of collapsed buildings near the twin towers.
It was dark when Tuff started her searches on the night of Sept. 12, 2001. There were people everywhere, Andert said, describing the scene as “utter chaos.”
“New York was a giant mound of steel and concrete dust,” he said. “To get to go with your dog to try to help … I’ve been very fortunate.”
Andert said Tuff is the first dog he’s had that he can truly call his own. And since he’s had her, Tuff has always been a part of him, he said.
He bought Tuff when she was 8 weeks old, wanting to train a search-and-rescue dog. His friend, Cathy Schiltz of Ashland, helped pick her out. The two met during an EMT class and would later become partners at ground zero.
For two and a half years, Andert trained Tuff as a “live find” search dog to look for survivors in collapsed buildings. Tuff and Andert went to practice search sites around Missouri — and as far as Indiana and Nebraska — every weekend.
“It’s a game of hide and seek for the dogs,” Andert said, and Tuff was always “ready to go.”
Andert spoke proudly of the day Tuff ran straight into a cinder block during a training exercise. She broke all her front teeth and skinned her chest down to her abdomen. “It didn’t even faze her,” he said.
Still, he took Tuff to Horton Animal Hospital, where Jennifer Eichelberger was working as a receptionist. They’d met previously while tailgating at MU games, and they worked together as volunteer firefighters with the Boone County Fire Protection District.
His visits to Horton Animal Hospital became more frequent when Tuff repeatedly scraped her chest during training or a stick went through her paw and she needed her dressings cleaned.
Women Andert had dated before didn’t understand his bond with Tuff and the time commitment that search-and-rescue training took.
“With Jennifer, I’d say that I had to go home to let Tuff out, and she’d ask, ‘Why don’t you just bring her along next time?'” Andert said. “She understood that bond.”
Andert and Eichelberger married on Oct. 16, 2002.
Canine search efforts often consist of a pair of dogs working together, with the second dog searching behind the first to verify finds. In New York, Tuff’s partner was Hawk, Schiltz’s Australian shepherd, who was 8 years old at the time.
Going to New York was scary, Schiltz said. “We didn’t know what to expect.”
The relief workers in New York weren’t used to seeing the dogs work the way they did — “naked,” with no collars, leashes or special boots, Schiltz said. “When they did ask us to clear areas, they were really impressed with the range the dogs covered.”
Despite their efforts, Tuff and Hawk found no survivors at ground zero.
Hawk died in late 2007 at age 14.
Tuff and Andert returned to Missouri nine days after being dispatched. For Andert, working in New York made him realize what was most important to him: Settling down and starting a family.
The transition from search-and-rescue dog to family dog was easy for Tuff, Andert said.
These days, Tuff spends most of her time being a “couch potato,” Andert said. She goes to work with him at the animal hospital every Tuesday. Tuff’s routine is simple: Greet the kennel staff, get fed and fall asleep between the receptionists in the front office.
“I just love this dog,” Andert said. “You build a bond, you know.”