NY Exhibit Pays Tribute to 9/11 Search & Rescue Dogs

NY Exhibit Pays Tribute to 9/11 Search & Rescue Dogs

“9/11 Remembered: Search & Rescue Dogs” is an exhibit that memorializes the service dogs who tirelessly searched for survivors at Ground Zero.

Opening at the American Kennel Club’s Museum of the Dog in New York on September 1, the exhibit also honors canines that worked at other disasters across the globe.

According to The New York Times, hundreds of search and rescue dogs worked 12-hour days for 10 days straight. Some of these dogs include Ricky, a rat terrier who squeezed into tight spaces that other dogs couldn’t navigate; Riley, a golden retriever that found the bodies of several firefighters in the debris; and Trakr, a German shepherd that found the last remaining survivor of the 9/11 attacks.

Unfortunately, most of the search and rescue dogs were unable to find survivors in the rubble. Still, these dogs served as inspiring symbols of hope to medical personnel and everyone who witnessed their rescue efforts.

Keeping Search and Rescue Dogs Motivated During Rescue Operations

A major challenge for the 9/11 search and rescue dogs was the frustration of not finding survivors even after hours of looking. According to Dr. Cynthia Otto, director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center in Philadelphia, these dogs’ handlers had to stage “mock finds” to keep them motivated.

This is because search and rescue dogs are trained to regard tracking missing people like a game. Whenever they successfully find survivors, these dogs are given positive reinforcement and rewards such as the dog’s favorite custom plush toys, a game of tug-of-war, dog treats, petting, and verbal praise.

Unfortunately, not all searches have happy endings. Still, the family members of the deceased often thank the search and rescue dogs for finding their loved ones. “It brings some closure,” said Bev Peabody, a founding member of the California Rescue Dog Association in an interview with National Geographic, “because not knowing is really not a good thing.”

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