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Saturday, June 1, 2002

The World Trade Center's Heroic Rescue Dogs
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"Is ‘old dog’ my reward?  Most true, I have lost my teeth in your service."

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
As You Like It, Act I, Sc. i

NEW YORK CITY (USA) — Last Thursday, May 30, the final standing steel beam of the World Trade Center was carried off, and with it went the final farewells and Godspeeds to the 2,823 people and 1 dog who died in the September 11 tragedy.  As the silent procession made its way out of Battery Park, everyone understood that the 8½-month recovery effort had reached its end.

Never in the history of our world have dogs been called upon to serve humans in such a dark moment as the World Trade Center attack.  But serve they did, despite all hazards, through day and night and beyond all hope.

Following the first week of rescue/recovery, no survivors were ever found, and even the 20,000 recovered body parts only identified 1,092 of the victims.  But despite these bleak statistics, the efforts were never futile—if anything can be said for the powerful, united spirit of humans and dogs.

"A dog will look at you as if to say, 'What do you want me to do for you? I’ll do anything for you.'  Whether a dog can in fact, do anything for you ... is another matter.  The dog is willing."

— Roy Blount, Jr.
Now Where Were We? (1989) 


If the "ground zero" cleanup was indeed a demonstration of dedication and duty, then it would only be fitting now to honor the participants themselves and to see to it that their tremendous efforts did not go unappreciated.

The first five pages of The Scoop's "World Trade Center's Heroic Rescue Dogs" offered a view of these devoted souls in action during the weeks following the disaster.  Now as a final postscript, the images here represent the reception bestowed upon the dogs and their handlers for their work and sacrifice.

"Dog over here!"

(A request for help heard throughout the recovery effort at the World Trade Center)

Even the dogs were invited. 
The flag-draped steel column was carried off site last Thursday past an honor guard of police officers, firefighters—and not to be overlooked though they are small in stature—loyal dogs who were there up until the very end.  Can you find the Labrador Retriever in the picture above? (Photo: Peter Morgan / Reuters)

There were about 350 FEMA-certified search and rescue dogs and their handlers who answered the call.  In addition, there were volunteer teams from all over North America and of course, New York City's own K-9 police dogs—the most deserving of whom is probably "Sirius", K-9 partner of Officer David Lim.  Sirius died in his kennel beneath the WTC that morning as Officer Lim himself was buried while rescuing those caught in the attack on Sep. 11.

Happier days.
Officer David Lim and his K-9 partner Sirius pose at the Top of the World.

(Photo: Mike Derer / AP)
At a Sirius memorial ceremony
at Liberty State Park (Jersey City) on April 24, 2002, Officer David Lim held his composure but cracked momentarily when he was handed Sirius's old bowl which was found at the site.  He said:
"I'm not quite the rock I thought I would be.To many other people, this would just be a water bowl, but this is something I'll cherish for the rest of my life."

"We were very close; no matter where I went, he went.  Whatever I asked him to do, he did.  He never complained.  Sometimes we'd be working for long hours, searching hundreds of cars or trucks, and he'd just look at me like, 'What do you want me to do now?' "

— Officer David Lim
Port Authority Police Dept.,
speaking about K-9 "Sirius"

(Photo: Mike Derer / AP)
Many of you might agree,
the saddest sight in the world is a dog bowl that has outlived its dog.  At the Sirius memorial ceremony, attended by some 250 officers of the Port Authority, NYPD and beyond, Officer David Lim was presented with his partner's old bowl, which had been recovered, plated and newly engraved with a fitting epitaph for the loyal Labrador K-9:

"I gave my life so that you may save others."

"There were two things, the handler told us, that really yanked on his emotions—a small doll pulled from the debris and the gift he and Ranger [his dog] had received from a child.  The gift was a small ziplock bag with two dog biscuits and two Hershey kisses inside, along with a note printed by the child that said, 'Lassie would be so proud of you.' "

— Terri Crisp, Director
Emergency Animal Rescue Service 

(Photo: David Karp / AP)

There were plenty of dogs to make Lassie proud on that day—so many that there weren't nearly enough gifts, medals and words of praise to go around.  But at an honors ceremony on March 5, the PDSA Dickin Medal and Britain's highest respects were paid to guide dogs Roselle and Salty (Dorado), who led their humans (Michael Hingson, left, and Omar Rivera, center) down the frenzied stairwells to safety just minutes before the towers fell.  On behalf of all search and rescue dogs who lent their senses, Apollo and NYPD partner Officer Peter Davis, right, accepted the PDSA Dickin Medal, which is "the highest honor Britain can bestow on any animal in time of conflict or in the face of extreme danger," according to spokesperson Marilyn Rydström.  The coveted award is the animals' equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

Over the past nine months, The Scoop has received so many letters, pictures and emails from the people and dogs who were there at "the pile" during the recovery effort.  Without exception, each team deserves a special tribute.  Therefore, we can think of no better way to close out the "WTC's Heroic Rescue Dogs" series than with a "World Trade Center's Heroic Dog Yearbook", compiled from the materials graciously submitted to us.

Wherever possible, we have attempted to identify and credit the appropriate teams, but as many submissions were anonymous, we welcome any additional information or comments for us to add.  This yearbook will continue to be updated as long as is running and as long as we all still remember the gallant efforts of dogs and humans at the World Trade Center—on both counts, it would be nice to say: Forever!

(click on the flag to view the yearbook)


Picture Gallery
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"Last steel column still standing at the World Trade Center site removed"
Associated Press
29 May 2002

Now Where Were We?
Random House 1989

CRISP, Terri
"Special Report on Search and Rescue Dogs"
Emergency Animal Rescue Service
26 Sep 2002

"Hero dog has his day"
NY Post
25 Apr 2002

"Ground Zero Dogs Receive British Gallantry Awards"
British Consulate General
4 Mar 2002

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