Jesse Willms: The Canine Heroes Who Helped Our Community During And After 9/11

Posted by Jesse Willms on September 09, 2011

As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 comes upon us, there will be much reflection and discussion of the heroes of that day. It’s important that we never forget how many souls risked their lives to save others or help with the aftermath.

There were many heroes during those days – fire fighters, police officers and regular citizens – who simply did the right thing to help their fellow man.

But there is one type of hero that is rarely talked about – the guide and rescue dogs who were at the scene risking their own lives and proving that they are truly man’s best friends.

These dogs have their own stories of heroism. Some helped their blind masters down the rubble-strewn staircases to safety before the buildings collapsed. Others helped find survivors buried in the debris. Some helped locate bodies so that family members could bury their dead with dignity.

They are real heroes who should never be forgotten. But they could not do it on their own. They were helped by an extraordinary organization called the American Humane Association.

The American Humane Association brought an 82-foot mobile veterinary clinic and rescue rig to Ground Zero and their Red Star™ Animal Emergency Services teams coordinated food and fresh water to search and rescue dogs. They provided some of the harnesses and leashes that handler teams needed and gave on-site training on how to use the harnesses. They set up a treatment center for injured and exhausted recovery dogs on the Staten Island Landfill site where they decontaminated the dogs of toxins after each shift.

Without their help, the rescue dogs would not have been able to do their jobs – or could have been badly hurt or even killed in the line of duty.

That’s why I’ve decided to take the 10th anniversary of these brutal terrorist attacks to donate $750 to the American Humane Association. They were there when we needed them, and they will be there for us again.

The truth is that whenever there is a disaster – whether natural or man-made – dogs play an important part in all of the rescue efforts. While we may not realize it, they are an extremely significant part of our community.

Organizations like the American Humane Association, which make it possible for these animals to help us, deserve our respect and support. Without our help they cannot help rescue dogs do their jobs.

We need to remember all of the heroes of 9/11, and these dogs certainly qualify. If you appreciate their efforts and can find it in your heart to realize they are true heroes, I ask you to support the American Humane Association as well.

They deserve it.