We Will Never Forget…9/11 Rescue Dogs

I want to start this post by saying a prayer for the victims of 9/11 and their families.

On this day, the anniversary of 9/11, I thought it appropriate to publish a “shout out” to the Search and Rescue (SAR) dogs that were in New York City and Washington, D.C. that day and for weeks after the tragedy, digging away and looking for victims buried underneath the steel and rubble.

According to dogsinthenews.com, it was the largest deployment of search dogs in U.S. history “and possibly the single greatest example of inter-species cooperation in the history of human disasters.”

The final number of SAR dogs deployed to the two cities in the wake of 9/11 is unknown. It’s lowly estimated that around 350-500 dogs lent their snouts to 9/11 SAR efforts at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. One report says approximately 100 were deployed by FEMA, and 250 SAR dogs came from around the country, NYPD dogs, security dogs and volunteers who rushed to the scene as soon as possible.

FEMA rescue worker Bob Sessions had this to say about the heroic dogs of those days: “If these dogs only knew what a difference they make. Certainly, there’s nothing that can replace the precision of a dog’s nose—and absolutely nothing that can replace a dog’s heart.”

That day on the scene, Officer Joe Caputo of the NYC Police K-9 Unit said this: “You can train all you want, but this is the mother lode. The dogs can feel it.”

I remember hearing stories about these dogs, about how special they were. About how many of them there were. About where they came from — as far away as British Columbia, Colorado, Washington and California. I remember hearing how some of the rescue dogs were actually growing very depressed because they couldn’t find any humans alive, they felt they weren’t following through with their training, they felt it was their fault… a disheartening and emotionally devastating charge for any SAR dog and something that personally breaks my heart. SAR dogs—especially those trained to find living people—feel increased stress and depression as time passes with no survivors found. Workers actually started to put live bodies of volunteers in more obvious places, staging mock rescues, perhaps under only one or two layers of steel beams, for the dogs to find so they could get their confidence back…

Mike Owens of Southwestern Ohio K-9 Search and Rescue, speaking about his partner Worf, said this: “He kind of withdrew from everything. There was so much death there, it was emotional for the dogs.”

Special canine medical units treated as many as 100 injured dogs per day in the first few days of searching. Volunteer veterinarian Lisa Carter, 32, said that most of the injuries were cuts on their paws from the jagged glass and steel that the dogs have to climb over.

Sharon Gattas of Riverside Urban Search and Rescue had this to say about the rescue dogs of 9/11: “They go underneath into void spaces—anywhere we can get the dogs in. The site is very difficult agility for the dogs. They’re crawling on their bellies and squeezing through things. It’s incredible to watch.”

Here are some pictures, courtesy dogsinthenews.com, of rescue dogs from the days after the 9/11 tragedy:

Tascha and Gary Flynn

Tascha and Gary Flynn







Scooter the Bomb Dog

Scooter the Bomb Dog

Name Unknown

Name Unknown

Officers and Rescue Dogs

Officers and Rescue Dogs

Durac and Officer McFadden

Durac and Officer McFadden

To read how SAR dogs also helped traumatized and emotional firemen, police officers and rescue workers, click here. To read more information and stories about SAR dogs on 9/11, click here.

To all of the 9/11 heroes, human and canine, acclaimed and unsung, thank you for your selfless bravery and dedication. We will never forget…

*All photos courtesy dogsinthenews.com*

40 Responses to “We Will Never Forget…9/11 Rescue Dogs”

  1. Fui and Suey says:

    Thankyou for posting about the dogs. They are such remarkable creatures.

  2. Patty says:

    Incredible dogs. Great post.

  3. This was a great post of remembrance.

  4. Joan says:

    What a great tribute too all of our heros on this very sad day. Thank you for posting this story.

  5. Samantha says:

    I have written a few comments on different blogs with tributes to 9/11, but this one truly tugs at the heartstrings – Thank you for sharing. We will never forget.

  6. What a wonderful remembrance post! Thank you!

    Love ya lots
    Maggie and Mitch

  7. Mia says:

    What a LOVELY post, Im going to send out this link. Those pictures speak volumes… thanks for posting this beaitiful tribute JL.


  8. B&E says:

    We think this is a very touching post and are so glad you wrote it. Those pictures especially are fantastic, we’re going to check out the dogsinthenews site you mentioned too.

    Thanks for this wonderful post, its truly touching…

  9. ashley says:

    Wow, what a wonderful post. Im teary reading this. Im also going to Tweet this and send to my friends. You never really hear about the 9/11 rescue dogs anywhere else and they did SO MUCH. Thanks for this post…

  10. Carolyn says:

    This is BEAUTIFUL, Im truly touched. This made me cry. Those dogs AND their humans are wonderful caring creatures who deserve so much more recognition. Thanks for posting this on this day of rememberance.

  11. Those dogs gave new meaning to untiring devotion to a calling. I admire each person to takes the immense obligation and time to train their dog for search and rescue. I love the dogs more than words can express.

  12. AnimalLuvr says:

    What a beautifully written post Jaime. These selfless, heroic, dedicated dogs and individuals deserve so much more praise that can ever be given. Tahnks for sharing this very appropriate tribute today. It is very touching, especially those pictures….

  13. Bill says:

    Very touching post, I am teary eyed reading this and seeing these pictures. I too heard the stories about how depressed the dogs became when they could find no survivors, that they would find clothes with no bodies in them, body parts, etc. God bless them and their trainers. God bless us all after this terrible tragedy. thanks for this touching tribute.

  14. Khyra says:

    This is probably amongst the most moving posts we’ve seen today…

    Tank woo!


  15. Brian says:

    That was such a nice tribute to the woofies, they are real heros too!!!

  16. William says:

    Thank you for reminding us of the other heroes of that day…

  17. Thank you for reminding us of these 4 pawed hero’s.

  18. FFH Alaska says:

    How many of these selfless animals lived full lives afterward? How many died early attributed to WTC sickness?

  19. This is a very touching post. Great minds must think alike, because I also posted a tribute to the search and rescue dogs on 9-11. These amazing dogs provide an invaluable service and it’s good that they are being recognized and remembered. In case you’d like to read my post on the SAR dogs, you can find it here: http://canidaepetfood.blogspot.com/search/label/dog%20heroes

  20. Hendrix says:

    beautiful post. we have the book “Dog Heroes of September 11” and we love it.


    she and a friend of hers raised money at her workplace to send in so all the woofies would have booties for their paws. we forget the name of the organization now, but they raised over $100 with “wear jeans to work for $5 day”


    we always remember that not all the victims were beans

  21. […] 9/11 Search and Rescue Dogs Tribute | Thoughts Fur Paws This is a tribute to all the Search and Rescue dogs that helped on 9/11. The 9/11 rescue dogs went through the same emotions as their human companions… […]

  22. Ross says:

    Anyone who owns a dog knows that they are special animals. The things they will do just to please us humans is amazing.

  23. Ashly says:

    This is a very touching tribute, thanks for posting and recognizing these special woofies… the pictures are tear-jerkers…

  24. Nice post

    I’m doing my rounds and just wanted to pop by and thank you for commenting at my blog last month. I appreciate your input.

  25. Great post! I started following your blog about a month ago and I like your honesty. Good example to emulate.

  26. Tyeler says:

    Tasha, has recently pasted away. she was 16 years old

    • Marian Heary says:

      Oh my goodness, i’m sooo sorry for your loss. I’d say she was part of your family. Its so devastating to lose them. But, she had a good long life, and i’m sure a loving home. I’msorry only reading this now, i’ve just been told about this page, sorry. Our hearts go out to you all, from all of us in Ireland.

  27. […] being able to find ‘live’ people did have an emotional affect on them (God bless you Worf). They felt it because, let’s face it, most dogs are better people. God bless them and their […]

  28. Dawesome says:

    I was at the Big E fair in West Springfield, MA last month and saw an officer walking around with a beautiful dog. The dog was wearing a vest indicating he was a search dog, so I knew not to interrupt him at work. The officer thanked me for respecting that, then gave me to permission to approach the dog. He told me the dog’s name was Porkchop, and, at 11 years old, is the last working dog from Ground Zero. I felt so honored to be in the presence of this brave and gentle creature, and to give him a hug. Another woman came over to see him as well, and I told her who he was…we were both nearly moved to tears.

    • Nicole says:

      Thankyou for posting this, I was just looking through the doggy heroes of 9/11 and wondering what happened to little Porkchop. So pleased that he’s still around and the fact that he’s still working is just amazing! What a special little pup and person combination, true heroes x

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