Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Unsung (and Furry) Heroes from 9/11


In the wake of the tragedy at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA - many groups of heroes went about their work to search, rescue and recover. For the Homo Sapien members at both sites - their incredible hard and emotional work was made that much simpler and that much more productive with their friends from the Canis Lupus Familiaris.

Dogs being just dogs already make life more pleasant and joyous for their human counterparts. However search and rescue dogs are a special group. Rescue dogs are some of the biggest heroes of all. These amazing creatures will go above and beyond the call of duty to save a human. They take risks when some men will not or just cannot. These dogs are completely focused at the job at hand and oblivious to the scents and sights that would overwhelm their human partners.  But most of all they are selfless in their tasks.  The dogs take their jobs seriously.

Handler Tony Zintsmaster and his search and rescue dog Kaiser work at Ground Zero hours
after the attack. Photo from Bob Kaufman
And as it is with their human partner, this is a job fraught with risk - many times in the course of saving the life of a victim in a tragedy - the dog will lose their own.

The vital nature of dog rescue in the collapse of the towers cannot be underestimated - they are every much the hero. Dozens were sent to both New York and Washington to search and recover - several did not survive and many became sick from the poisonous air.

The most common rescue dogs are Bloodhounds, Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundlands, German Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers. Many other from the hunting and sporting groups can also be trained as a rescue dog. Some of the attributes of these rescue dogs are their phenomenal physical strength, their mental toughness and stability and their incredible loyalty.

Last week the American Humane Association honored the dogs who were very much a part of the recovery of 9/11.  This Sunday, the Tails of Hope Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to advance veterinary medicine in the fight against cancer and other diseases, will honor the dogs and their partner in Liberty State Park, New Jersey.  While we should never forget the victims and all the people that went to the 3 sites of the attacks to search and help - we should all also honor the furry heroes of 9/11.

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