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.”
I have been behind on blogging recently. Taking care of my three dogs and trying to get some freelance work by submitting graphic designs for bid proposals I want to catch up here so I am hoping to do a few 9-11 dog stories each day.
She may be retired now, but Red was one of the four-legged heroes in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks.
Red was among hundreds of other dogs who worked in New York and Washington, D.C. after the attacks, according to the video below from Reuters. She searched through the rubble at the Pentagon in 12-hour shifts in the hot sun, helping to recover dozens of bodies over several weeks.
Now 12-years-old and retired, the labrador occasionally tags along on search missions. She “still has the same love of the search,” according to the video report.
Her trainer, Heather Roche, explains that Red was not initially cut out for the job. “I never thought she would be a successful search dog,” she told Reuters. But no matter what I asked her to do … she did it every single time and she did it perfectly,” Roche added.
There are also over 530 police officers who work with bomb-sniffing dogs named after 9/11 victims.
There are organizations that work to train dogs, such as the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, which helps train dogs, mostly from shelters, to save human lives during disasters.
article written by Erika Conner reposted from
Castro Valley author Susy Flory says when she first listened to Michael Hingson tell his harrowing account of surviving the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center with help from his guide dog Roselle, the story gave her chills.
It was the spring of 2010 and Flory, now 46, had interviewed Hingson about his experience over the phone for inclusion in her forthcoming book Dog Tales, a collection of true and inspiring stories featuring dogs from around the globe.
Flory said during their initial conversation she asked Hingson if he had ever thought about writing a memoir describing the ordeal. “He said yes, but that he also wanted a collaborator. More chills,” she said.
After they said their goodbyes and hung up, Flory realized the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 was coming up. Soon thereafter she approached Hingson about working together, since the two lived less than an hour apart.
“I got chills all over again. I think it was meant to be,” Flory said.
She spent much of last summer at his Novato home, where she bonded with Hingson over their shared love of travel, books, dogs and adventure. Hingson, who is blind, recounted how Roselle led him and dozens of others to safety from the 78th floor of Tower 1 moments before it crumbled.
But he has never let his blindness slow him down—not then and not now. He graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with a master’s degree in physics and today runs his own consulting firm, piloting small planes and playing golf in his free time.
His determination and positive attitude have left a lasting impression on her, she says.
Flory was recovering from breast cancer when she first met Hingson and said he treats his blindness as an asset, not a liability.
“I am learning to look at my challenges in the same way and I am finding that using what I have to serve others is the biggest adventure of all,” she said. “I learned that by lowering my guard, choosing to trust others and working together, we could accomplish great things.
Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog & the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero was released on Aug. 2 and one week later found itself on the New York Times bestseller list, placing in the e-book category, nonfiction hardcover, and combined e-book/nonfiction. The memoir has remained on the list for the last five weeks, which Flory says is “mind-blowing.”
Meanwhile, Hingson is readjusting to life without his trusted companion. Roselle, a yellow Labrador retriever, died in June at the age of 13, but her memory lives on in both the book and a foundation Hingson has started in her honor. Roselle’s Dream Foundation works to assist blind children and adults in obtaining new technologies.
Roselle has also been named a finalist in the 2011 American Humane Association’s American Hero Dog Awards.
“On 9/11, Mike and Roselle never gave up and lived out the first guide dog command: ‘Forward,'” Flory says. “Now whenever I face a challenge, that simple word comes to mind as I think of Mike and Roselle at the top of those 1,463 stairs in the North Tower: ‘Forward.'”
A Link to the book on amazon
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.”