Let’s not forget the furry heroes of 9/11

Coco worked so hard with and made a tremendous impact

Coco worked so hard with and made a tremendous impact

 

I can still smell the smell of September 11, 2001. I was living in New York and witnessed it all first hand. And the smell – you can never forget it.

But the most important memory for me is what happened afterward and all the animals that played a role in the city’s recovery.

At Ground Zero alone there were more than 300 search and rescue dogs and their handlers and 13 members of the Search Dog Foundation who worked tirelessly to bring some relief to families. 9/11 remains the largest deployment of canine Human Remains Detection dogs the country has ever experienced. It was easy for the dogs to make a mistake because the human smell permeated everything. The FBI required a 60%+ accuracy rate for any dog assigned to be recalled another day. The human handlers got tired but the dogs never seemed to. They knew their job was too important to take time off, but they indeed had to rest and be well cared for so they could return to work hour after hour.
Coco couldn't be held close enough

Coco couldn't be held close enough

 

And there were the therapy dogs.  Under coordination by the ASPCA many therapy dogs were deployed throughout the city to various locations, providing the solace only a dog can.

Therapy dogs affiliated with Delta Society and other national organizations were scattered throughout the city to hospitals, family centers, schools and counseling centers.  

Coco brought joy to the joyless

Coco brought joy to the joyless

 

I remember sitting with students in a high school just blocks from Ground Zero days afterward. They had escaped the terror and the dogs were there to encourage conversation, recollections, grief and sharing.

Families visiting New York who were stranded for days had the dogs there to get through the horror and help their children open up to discuss what they had seen and experienced.

The incredible power of pets

The incredible power of pets

 

First responders needed the dogs more than anyone. Fire stations, police stations, hospital staff were all grateful to have the therapy dogs there to ease their pain and give them a much needed break from their tireless efforts.

Let’s recognize all the volunteers at both ends of the leash who served that day and the days, weeks and months after.