The dogs of 9-11: Ten years later, search and rescue dogs prove most resilient of all
Despite the many lasting impacts of 9-11, America bounced back from the attack, and the dogs involved in the massive search and rescue effort that followed may have proven the most resilient of all.
While many human rescuers are showing respiratory health problems a decade later, their canine colleagues have had minimal setbacks, according to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine 9/11 Medical Surveillance study.
The study, funded by a $500,000 donation from American Kennel Club’s Canine Health Foundation, monitored the long-term health impacts on 95 search-and-rescue dogs deployed to the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Staten Island landfills.
Researchers also compared their health to a control group of non-deployed search-and-rescue dogs.
“The most striking thing is that many of the humans that responded have developed reactive airway diseases, such as asthma, sinusitis or other chronic infections in their nasal sinuses. The dogs on the other hand have fared extremely well,” said Dr. Cynthia Otto, a principal investigator for the study. ”They’re not developing any problems with their lungs or sinuses. That is a real surprise.”
Those surviving 9-11 dogs who received cuts and scrapes in searching through the debris have long since recovered from those injuries.
Kaiser, now a 12-year-old German shepherd (pictured above), was one of only four dogs in the study that required stitches while working at Ground Zero.
“On our second day there, Kaiser sliced a pad on the pile,” said Tony Zintsmaster, Kaiser’s trainer and a charter member of Indiana Task Force One. “Once he was stitched up and felt better, Kaiser went back to work. He was quite amazing. He was able to adapt to the situation and showed great agility. He seemed happiest when he was on the pile working.”
Zintsmaster, along with other handlers who participated in the study, submitted annual X-rays, blood samples and surveys on their dog’s health and behavior to researchers.
The study found that the average lifespan of deployed dogs was 12.5 years, while non-deployed search-and-rescue dogs lived an average 11.8 years. According to the study, today at least 13 deployed search-and-rescue dogs that were part of the study are still alive.
Because canine and human genomes are similar and most canine diseases also occur in humans, future research could center on learning why the search-and-rescue dogs were able to endure the challenging conditions with minimal respiratory complications.
Identifying respiratory genetic markers in canines could lead to the development of treatments for respiratory ailments in humans, Dr. Otto said.
“The findings may open our eyes to the difference between dogs and people that makes them so resilient. If we could tap into that, we might actually help move human health forward.”
(Photos: By Charlotte Dumas, who tells the story of the remaining 9-11 dogs for her new book ”Retrieved.” )
Posted by jwoestendiek September 11th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 9-11, 911, american kennel club, anniversary, attack, canine health foundation, canines, dogs, health, humans, kaiser, remaining, resilience, respiratory, school of veterinary medicine, search and rescue, study, surviving, tuff, university of pennsylvania, world trade center