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.”
Exhausted, stressed and war-weary dogs receive the best care, both physical and mental, that humans can give.
“Worf” located the bodies of two missing firefighters on the first day. Overwhelmed, he lay down and curled up on the spot. The dog began shedding profusely, quit eating and refused to play with other dogs. His partner Mike Owens made the decision to retire the 12-year-old German Shepherd from search-and-rescue duty permanently. They are now back at home in Monroe, Ohio, where the entire town takes turns petting and playing with Worf.
Lynne Engelbert & “Lucy”, age 10½
California Task Force 4 (Oakland, CA).
“We worked 12-15 hrs., went through decon and back to the Javits where she was greeted by the VMAT folks (they were awesome!), bathed in warm water, given her nose-to-tail vet check, fed, walked and then I would go take care of me. Usually when I returned from the shower, she would be out playing tug with the firefighters. Endless energy! Lucy was able to locate numerous remains and help to bring closure for several families … There are no credits on the rooftop shot. I just handed my camera to a nearby firefighter and asked him to take some shots. The rubble site shot was on the Marriott hotel site where Lucy located the remains of a firefighter. This photo was taken by Tom Clark, Structural Specialist with CA TF4 … Thank you for your efforts to recognize these wonderful animals.” — Lynne Engelbert.
NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. (USA) — As a rule, emergency rescuers don’t hesitate to consider their own hides. Sadly, there were 341 brave firefighters who died by that credo in the Sept. 11 horror last year. And, not to be overlooked, just as many dogs were just as eager to rush toward an uncertain fate for the sake of duty.
Only one dog died in the World Trade Center1, but the risks taken by each of the estimated 350 search-and-rescue (SAR) pooches were immense, nonetheless. They walked on shattered glass, stuck their noses into concrete dust and crawled on their bellies through cavities that even rats were too afraid to explore. So what exactly is the price for such devotion?
Skin cancer, prostatitis, nerve damage and arthritis are a few of the ailments that are dogging “Bear”, a 12-year-old Golden Retriever who sniffed through the rubble for three months. But we’ll get to Bear’s story in a minute. First, let’s hear the facts agreed upon by most veterinarians and handlers.
“The University of Penn is doing a study of the teams that worked the WTC and Pentagon,” says Lynne Engelbert, a rescuer with California Task Force 4, “So we will find out in about 3 years if there are any ill effects.
“Lucy (left) didn’t have any issues at all. And she was 10½ years old at the time. She worked the rubble like a puppy … I know more of the teams that worked either the WTC or the Pentagon and know of nothing so far in any of them.”
Indeed, if there’s one indisputable point, it’s that the ASPCA, Suffolk County SPCA, VMAT and “doggy M*A*S*H” units took good care of our four-legged helpers (and we can’t overlook the TLC from a few volunteer dog-chiropractors on site who offered some professional back-rubs). But even with such expert care, our canine first-aid teams were not infallible.
For one, there’s no accounting for the psychological trauma that possibly could have affected some of the dogs. Fortunately, though, most dogs who have been trained in disaster recovery were well prepared for the “smell of death”.
As Ms. Engelbert explains: “This is what Lucy and I train to do. Although the site was massive and the devastation total, we were ready to go to work and did so as soon as we could. …finding the dead isn’t new to us. Although we would much prefer to find the living, helping to bring closure for the families of the victims was also gratifying. Knowing the families had ‘something’ definitive and could go on with their lives brings a sense of accomplishment.
“Neither one of us have had any emotional issues as a result of this deployment.”
full article here;:http://dogsinthenews.com/issues/0207/articles/020723a.htm
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.
Morgan a German Shepherd with her K9 Partner Molly a Yellow Labrador were some of the first cadaver dogs on the scene at Ground Zero on September the 11th. Cadaver dogs are given a extremely difficult job that no human or otherwise would want to do freely. It is in many ways a job without reward, in that there is no happy ending as they are finding a lifeless body or remains. These dogs are believed to be at times traumatized by the aspect of finding these bodies. It is upsetting to them to find the deceased person. The cadaver dog fully understands that these humans have ceased living, these dogs are not immune to the emotions of fear, sorrow and avoidance that we humans can feel surrounding death.
Morgan fell and was injured during the initial search but returned to duty as soon as she had seen a veterinarian. One can only imagine the massive amounts of hazardous chemicals, dust and contaminants and sharp objects these dogs had to endure.
Morgan was effected not only physically by the debris and toxic dust in the air at Ground Zero, but emotionally she needed to retire, so she did rest up until duty called her again, with another extremely tragic event in our nations history. When Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana there was another massive emergency call for help. Morgan courageously traveled to work and find those who had gone missing and ceased to be. It is probably just as important to find these deceased bodies as it is to find living bodies. Buddhism teaches that there is powerful Karma attached to caring for deceased bodies and helping the family and their spirit understand what has happened. Morgan and Molly’s job was thankless in many ways and it is something that most humans attach great fear and avoidance to death or any reminder of it such as bodies and remains. It is quite possible that Morgan has attained this highest Karma in helping scores of grieving family members.
If my life was to cease to be I could think of no greater spirit to see than a dog guiding me to the light, I can’t think of any being more trustworthy in life than the dog, so the same qualities of our dogs exist in death. I would imagine Morgan and Molly both and dogs like them are in many as guide dog for the souls who have fallen somewhere estranged from their families, giving not only closure to the family closure but a restful understanding to the soul of the departed.
I want to launch this attempt at honoring heroic dogs on this day. Ten years after the attacks on the United States I can think of no better moment to start writing on these companions dogs, working dogs, street dogs and nameless strays who have saved others without hesitation for their own life in danger. I hope to honor what will be remembered as infamous in the history of the world, as well as a day of marked, bravery , courage and heroism. We saw the worst aspects of humankind and the best aspects of humans and yes dogs working together to rescue, recover and heal the wounds drawn by the terrorist attack in New York, on Flight 96 and the Pentagon.
I will dedicate most of this months posts to the 9/11 search and rescue dogs.
For this first entry, I would like to honor Sirius the only dog to perish in the attack on the World Trade center. Sirius was a Yellow Labrador assigned to bomb detection at the World Trade Center his handler and companion was officer David Lim. The officer had left Sirius in his kennel to go to the emergency situation on the first tower hit. At the time he was not sure what had happened thinking it was a bomb however he thought the safest place for Sirius would be in the basement of Tower Two where his kennel was and freed the officer to attend to rescue in Tower One. Consequently David Lim was buried in the rubble and found 5 hours later. Thr bond between Officer David Lim and Sirius was very true; “We were very close; no matter where I went, he went. Whatever I asked him to do, he did. He never complained. Sometimes we’d be working for long hours, searching hundreds of cars or trucks, and he’d just look at me like, ‘What do you want me to do now?’ “.Sirius body was not found until January 22nd 2002. Officer David Lim rushed to be there for his fallen partner. All machines were silenced as Officer Lim carried his companion draped in the Flag of the United States and Sirius was given full police honors, His promise to his companion, fellow officer was fulfilled.