Posted by admin | Posted in Dogs | Posted on 11-09-2011
Honoring the Dogs of 9/11/01 & All Rescue Dogs
Saying that September 11, 2001 was a day that changed the history of our country is an understatement. It was a tragedy that produced defining and shaping moments for our country and many individuals.
So many people worked tirelessly for days, then weeks on end, looking for survivors from the World Trade Center disaster. There were also about 300 under mentioned heroes in the search and rescue mission at Ground Zero – the largest deployment of rescue dogs in the U.S. history.
Rescue training begins with a “hide and seek” activity, but there are no games involved in the serious job they do at a disaster site. They are trained to detect the live human scent, even from a victim buried deep in rubble.
The most familiar are the FEMA Rescue Dogs. The dogs and their handlers undergo rigorous training and certification. Ten years later, only 12 of the 80 FEMA “super heroes” deployed during the 9/11 attacks are still living.
Now retired, Bretagne is one. She was 3 years old when called to duty for the 9/11 disasters, her first rescue mission.
(Bretagne today – photo from the New York Post)
Even with more than a year of training learning how to find survivors in concrete rubble, Bretagne (and the other dogs) could not possibly have been prepared for Ground Zero. It was unprecedented and how can you train for such an enormous tragedy? She and the other rescue dogs did their job without a thought for themselves or their surroundings… they searched diligently for survivors.
Rescue dogs work without a leash or collar. They climbed ladders to get to piles of debris; wiggled into small spaces or crawled into holes on the off chance there might be a survivor. They walked wet steel beams without a safety net with the very real danger of slipping from the spray used to wet down the smoldering fires.
Needing their paws for traction, the dogs couldn’t wear protective foot coverings. The dogs were given a decontamination bath daily, ears, eyes and mouth rinsed and paws gently cleaned to avoid infections.
With their ability to sense the needs of others, the rescue dogs also served one other important purpose – they provided comfort and companionship for the firefighters and other human rescue workers… something very much needed during the long discouraging days. Rescue and volunteer dogs also worked hard at the Pentagon and therapy dogs provided comfort to many in Shanksville, PA.
Photographer Charlotte Dumas has captured current photos of some of the surviving FEMA Rescue Dogs today and working at Ground Zero. You can view them from this link – http://www.thedaily.com/page/2011/09/05/090511-news-911-dogs/
When you remember September 11, 2001, please include a thought for the canines that did their job diligently and courageously to try to help so many suffering families and a country in pain. Though they might not have found survivors, leaving no stone unturned, to some they brought a sense of peace and closure.