Animals at Ground Zero
Heroes in all shapes, sizes, and breeds
Meet One of the Dog Teams
Pier 40: Heart of the Operation
The Four-Legged Heroes
Search & Rescue, Canine Style
Where Are They Now?
Pets in Peril
Diary of a K-9 Team
Preparing for Animal Care in a Disaster
If You’re an Animal Organization
A Snapshot of the E-mails
A Memorial Roster
Paul Morgan and his dog, Cody, spent two days volunteering at Ground Zero with friends Hal Wilson and Sue. Nine FEMA response teams with about 35 search and rescue dogs and cadaver dogs were already on the scene.
But it wasn’t enough. Usually, outside individuals aren’t asked to an emergency area for fear of greater injury, as the handlers are unknown and the dogs untested. But the rescuers needed all the help they could get. Morgan hooked up with four state police K-9 teams. The FEMA rescue dogs were pulling out for a much-needed rest, and the two men and their dogs were deployed to the site by a firefighter.
Here’s an excerpt from what Morgan wrote.
The troopers and their dogs being relieved were absolutely expressionless, with that thousand-meter stare.
As Hal and I were escorted to the pile and up on to tons of debris, wrecked police and fire vehicles, hose lines, steel girders, pieces of aluminum, drywall, broken glass, and steel rods, we stumbled a dozen times.
A lieutenant brought us to a burned-out rig that had been a hose truck from a rescue unit. It was gray, and the cab was cleaned out … no seats, steering wheel, dashboard, nothing.
The lieutenant asked Cody and me to climb down into a pit 10 feet deep and search for any signs of life. I called into the back of the hose truck several times, but there was no response. Then Cody, my golden retriever, began scratching the earth and whimpering. I told the firefighters above me: “We have a body down here!”
My dog and I were lifted out of the pit by about a dozen firefighters, and the digging began with pikes and shovels. Minutes later the call came out: “Body bag!” An orange body bag was sent into the pit, and out came a firefighter’s remains.
A battalion chief asked me, “How good is your dog?” I didn’t have to answer: Cody was already scratching into a hole on the hose line – he’d found another body. He found three bodies in 30 minutes.
But this time, I was trapped! I couldn’t get out from under the slab. It was like being caught under a stairway in a dark basement. I couldn’t go forward, and I couldn’t back out with my boots caught in some other concrete chunks. Then Cody turned me around, pulling me to the left. He was gasping for air and was desperate to escape from the hole. I held on to his lead and crawled out. Then the firefighters above me pulled me out and lifted Cody to the surface.
When I got back to the ruins where the restaurants were, two nurses gave me some water, and another gave me a glass of orange juice. My buddy, Hal, and his dog, Sue, were right behind me. Hal found a metal tray in a trash pile. The dogs needed an awful lot of water. Then, out of nowhere, a line of firefighters with dirty, grim faces passed by, each of them pouring out his own water into the metal tray. Another firefighter gave us two sandwiches and some more water. The dogs consumed every drop of water — three or four quarts, and then the buildings began to crumble again. We were ordered out of the pile. It was now 14:30 hours – 2.30 P.M.