AKC Canine Health Foundation Funded Study of 9/11 Search and Rescue Dogs Enters its Fourteenth Year

11/24/2015

Dr. Cindy Otto and her team at the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Vet Working Dog Center have monitored the health and behavior of the search and rescue dogs involved in the 9/11 rescue and recovery efforts in New York City and Washington DC since October 2001.

The long-term medical surveillance study, funded for the past 14 years by the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF), began with the enrollment of 95 of the search and rescue dogs deployed to the World Trade Center, the Staten Island Landfill, and the Pentagon following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Fifty-five non-deployed search and rescue dogs also served as controls for the study. According to Dr. Cindy Otto, “The ability to follow these dogs and document the health and behavioral effects of their heroic service is invaluable.”

Today, three of these remarkable dogs are still living and continue to be monitored as part of the study. Morgan, a 16-and-a-half year old English Springer Spaniel and Bretagne, a 16- year-old Golden Retriever were both deployed in the rescue and recovery efforts following 9/11. Tookie a 15-and-a-half-year-old year old Airedale Terrier, is part of the non-deployed control group.

Participating dogs are monitored through annual examinations, which include blood tests and chest radiographs. Data from these tests are being analyzed to determine the health impact of deployment on the search and rescue dogs. According to Otto, the preliminary data have not shown a significant difference in incidence of cancer or in the median age at death between the deployed and control dogs, but this additional funding will allow for the complete analysis of the full set of data.

“Insights from this long-term medical surveillance study will provide vital information to handlers, trainers, and veterinary professionals on the health and well-being of dogs deployed on search and rescue missions,” said Dr. Diane Brown, Chief Scientific Officer of CHF, “and may provide insights to human exposures as well. CHF is honored to have provided study funding over the course of the entire lifetimes of these working dogs following their exposures on 9/11.”

The full article can be accessed at www.akcchf.org/september11study.

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