Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. Here in New York, the collapse of the World Trade Center towers and the tragic loss of life at Ground Zero left its mark on our home and our hearts.
Even though the Twin Towers housed businesses, brokerage firms, and restaurants, their collapse affected animals, too. Law enforcement dogs, search and rescue dogs, and ordinary pets left behind in apartments or evacuated with their owners suffered from poor air quality, smoke, and ash, not to mention emotional trauma.
The Animal Medical Center has long had close ties with New York’s finest, the New York City Police Department (NYPD). Like the NYPD, the AMC is open 24 hours a day and the NYPD canine officers come here with their partners day and night when they are injured in the line of duty.
September 11, 2001 was a little different. Within hours of the collapse of the World Trade Center towers that morning, the NYPD called the AMC asking for veterinarians to come to Ground Zero and care for the dogs working there. We did, of course.
On September 11, public transportation had been halted shortly after the Twin Towers were hit and major roads were under control of emergency services. AMC veterinarians packed bags of necessary supplies and hitchhiked to Ground Zero. Very early the next morning, they walked back to the AMC, a distance of about 5 miles.
In the following days, AMC veterinarians functioned as an emergency triage unit at Ground Zero until a canine care center was established in the area when the emergency response teams arrived. AMC veterinarians treated dogs for exhaustion, dehydration, and irritation of their eyes, nose, and lungs by smoke and ash.
One notable search-and-rescue dog from Illinois, Servus, was urgently transported to AMC twice – both times due to severe respiratory distress. Servus received oxygen and intravenous fluids before being transported to the AMC from Ground Zero.
Veterinarians at the AMC thought the NYPD dogs working at Ground Zero should be studied to document the health effects of the tragedy. The study documented the acute health problems and monitored the dogs for five years after 9/11. Results were published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Acute health issues found in the NYPD dogs working at Ground Zero included exhaustion, inflammation of mucous membranes, and respiratory signs such as coughing and wheezing. Because teams worked around the clock, dogs lost weight when their eating and sleeping patterns were altered. No NYPD dog developed severe, life- threatening injury while working and long-term monitoring showed no increase in cancer in the NYPD dogs.
The work of the brave search and rescues dogs of 9/11 has been memorialized in an online photo gallery.
This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.
For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.