Why We Must Always Remember the 9/11 Dogs

Why We Must Always Remember the 9/11 Dogs

September 11th, 2001 is a day none of us could ever forget.  Full of tragedy and unimaginable horrors, it was a pivotal event in history.     

Yet amid the darkness, many two and four-legged heroes gave us hope.    Today, we want to remember all the Search and Rescue (SAR) dogs that bravely hunted through the rubble to find survivors and human remains. We also want to remember the therapy dogs that brought comfort to first responders. Although SAR and Therapy Dogs had already been around for years before 9/11, many people weren’t aware of what they could actually do.   But this major disaster revealed all that they are capable of.  And it’s no secret their job was far from easy.  Regardless, these amazing animals did exactly what they had to do.  And twenty years later, their stories continue to inspire us.  

This article is a well-deserved tribute to these furry heroes. It is intended to remind us of the trials they endured and the good they accomplished.  

Facing Immense Challenges

It’s been estimated that over 300 search teams responded to the 9/11 disaster, and only 1/3 of those teams had been trained to handle a crisis of gigantic proportions. Most of the SAR dogs had training and experience in wilderness rescues. So, it was probably quite a shock to be in the city searching through a massive mess of rubble.   Yet they fought on bravely, doing their very best to find survivors and human remains. As the SAR dogs toiled through 12-hour shifts, they took a physical and mental beating.  Due to the nature of this work, the dogs could’ve easily become discouraged.  The handlers fought off that discouragement by faking successful finds.  This helped motivate the dogs while they worked in unprecedented circumstances.  As for the therapy dogs, most were accustomed to nursing homes and hospitals.  But the dogs that responded to the 9/11 crisis had to step up their game. Those pups must have carried a colossal load of grief and despair, as human workers and 9/11 victims looked to them for comfort



Shining a Light of Goodness and Hope


Despite the enormity of the 9/11 tragedy and the incredibly difficult challenges the dogs faced, these canines still made a positive difference. For starters, they assisted in searching through a large amount of rubble.  That certainly wasn’t an easy task, but these dogs rose to the occasion and got it done. But it didn’t stop there.  These special animals also provided comfort and encouragement to the two-legged first responders, like firefighters and rescue workers.  These human helpers could’ve easily been overcome by the despair that surrounded them.  But the dogs helped them to keep fighting and forging ahead.  work.  Plus, they were already carrying a huge responsibility, which had exhausted them.  The necessity for therapy dogs became apparent.  These specially trained pups were brought to Ground Zero, where they could bring comfort to those who so desperately needed it.    

The Good That Resulted

When we look back at what those dogs did, we see the good that resulted from the bad.  They made an impact on us, giving us hope in a time of fear, uncertainty, and sorrow.   They were also an example of how to persevere in the face of horrific tragedy and do whatever it takes to accomplish the task at hand.  In addition, their service increased public awareness of dog therapy and SAR organizations.  As people became more aware of those organizations, they offered their support by donating money. Those donations helped the organizations continue carrying out their vital work.  Furthermore, more dog owners became interested in getting search and rescue certified. 9/11 also revealed the need to prepare therapy dogs for the heavy emotional burdens associated with monumental disasters. 

To help meet this need, Therapy Dogs International created a special certification program that equips dogs and handlers to respond to enormous emergencies.

In Conclusion

Although 9/11 was a terrible event, we can still be inspired by the human and canine heroes that jumped into action when the call of duty came.   

  If you want to learn more about these amazing dogs, check out the book Dog Heroes of September 11th.  You might also want to watch the documentary, Hero Dogs of 9/11.  These precious pups deserve to be remembered and honored for what they did. 

They truly were the light in the darkness.    

About the Author:

Savanna Westwood

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