Remembering the Dogs of 9/11
Updated: Sep 24
When 9/11 hit, first responders were on the ground immediately to rescue survivors. But once the air settled, a second group of heroes stepped up to find victims. The search dogs of 9/11 were able to locate live and deceased victims of 9/11 among the Twin Towers rubble. There were more than 300 dogs that were involved in the rescue efforts. Let's meet some of these four-legged heroes.
Thunder and his handler flew in from Washington to assist in the search and rescue. Thunder previously did search and rescue for victims and survivors of avalanches and possible drownings in Washington but never something of this magnitude.
Sage became a FEMA search and rescue dog when she was only 18 months old. Upon arriving for her 9/11 mission, she was sent to work through the rubble of the Pentagon. What she found would make her a legend. Sage sniffed out the body of the terrorist who had flown American Flight 77 into the building which granted her the name, Sage the Wonder Dog.
Apollo became the first dog to arrive on the scene after the 9/11 terrorist attack. He and his handler, Peter Davis, arrived just 15 minutes after the attack. Apollo was almost killed by falling debris and flames but once he was brushed off by Davis, he was back at it searching for survivors among the rubble!
COBY & GUINNESS
These two labrador retrievers worked tirelessly, digging through the 9/11 rubble at the World Trade Center. They worked for 11 days and 12 hours shifts, making this the biggest mission they have ever done. The pair ended up finding dozens of people in the rubble before going to retire at their handler's home in Southern California.
This photo has been seen around the world of Riley, the rescue Golden Retriever, being transported out of the rubble. His job was to find live people but he did find many deceased firefighters as well (which does have an unfortunately psychological impact on these dogs). His search partner and human explained, “Riley knew the people he continued to find were dead. He was never a formally trained cadaver dog. His job was to find the still living. I tried my best to tell Riley he was doing his job. He had no way to know that when firefighters and police officers came over to hug him, and for a split second you can see them crack a smile – that Riley was succeeding at doing an altogether different job. He provided comfort. Or maybe he did know.”
Bretagne (pronounced Brit-nee) was only 2 years old when she was recruited for search and rescue after 9/11. She, along with her handler, worked Ground Zero for 10 days straight where the mission transitioned from rescue of live victims to recovery of the deceased. Bretagne later became the last living 9/11 rescue dog until she passed away on June 6, 2016, just shy of 17 years old.
Jake went from stray to hero early on in life. He was found as a stray at 10 months old with multiple injuries. He was later adopted by Mary Flood, a member of the Utah Task Force 1, a search and rescue team trained to respond to disasters. Mary then trained him for search and rescue and became a world-class rescue dog. During 9/11, he worked for 17 days looking for survivors. After 9/11, Jake continued helping train other young search and rescue dogs and volunteered as a therapy dog at Utah nursing homes and at a camp for burn victims.
German Shepherd, Trakr, worked on finding live victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack. He, along with Canadian police officer James Symington, found the last living victim in the rubble, a woman who had been trapped for 27 hours after the building collapsed around her.
The dogs of 9/11 saved many lives and gave closure to many families. Some of them went on to other missions like Hurricane Katrina, some became therapy dogs nad some were given the gift of retirement. We must always remember these furry heroes and honor their memory.