2336: Medical Surveillance of Dogs Deployed to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon

Grant Status: Closed

Grant Amount: $280,929
Cynthia M. Otto, DVM, PhD; University of Pennsylvania
January 1, 2002 - December 31, 2004

Sponsor(s): Giant Schnauzer Club of America, Golden Retriever Foundation, Veterinary Pet Insurance Company

Breed(s): -All Dogs
Research Program Area: General Canine Health
Donate to Support this Research Program Area


September 11, 2001, will live on in the memory and psyche of the American people. These events may also alter the lives of the hundreds of dogs and their handlers that served in a time of disaster. Federal (FEMA) Urban Search and Rescue Teams, police and private search dog handlers were involved in the search mission. The dogs were exposed to numerous hazardous materials. Although the acute medical problems were limited, it is impossible to predict the long-term effects of this disaster on the health and behavior of the dogs and the mental health of their handlers. In order to identify problems, we will perform intensive surveillance of the FEMA Team dogs and survey monitoring of the remainder of dogs. The intensive monitoring will include blood work (for evidence of infection, toxic injury and cancer) and chest radiographs over the next three years. Behavior and activity information will be collected at each time period for all dogs. The medical and behavior changes in the search dogs will be compared to controls to determine the lasting effects of this disaster and its response. Psychological effects on the FEMA dog handlers will also be monitored and interactions with the medical and behavioral effects of the dogs will be evaluated.


Hare, E., Kelsey, K. M., Niedermeyer, G. M., & Otto, C. M. (2020). Long-Term Behavioral Resilience in Search-and-Rescue Dogs Responding to the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 105173. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2020.105173

Fitzgerald, S. D., Rumbeiha, W. K., Braselton, W. E., Downend, A. B., & Otto, C. M. (2008). Pathology and Toxicology Findings for Search-and-Rescue Dogs Deployed to the September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attack Sites: Initial Five-Year Surveillance. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, 20(4), 477–484. https://doi.org/10.1177/104063870802000410
Hare, E., Kelsey, K. M., Serpell, J. A., & Otto, C. M. (2018). Behavior Differences Between Search-and-Rescue and Pet Dogs. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 5. https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2018.00118
Jones, K. E., Dashfield, K., Downend, A. B., & Otto, C. M. (2004). Search-and-rescue dogs: an overview for veterinarians. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 225(6), 854–860. https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.2004.225.854
Otto, C. M., Downend, A. B., Serpell, J. A., Ziemer, L. S., & Saunders, H. M. (2004). Medical and behavioral surveillance of dogs deployed to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon from October 2001 to June 2002. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 225(6), 861–867. https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.2004.225.861
Otto, C. M., Franz, M. A., Kellogg, B., Lewis, R., Murphy, L., & Lauber, G. (2002). Field treatment of search dogs: lessons learned from the World Trade Center disaster: Field treatment of search dogs. Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, 12(1), 33–41. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1435-6935.2002.00004.x
Slensky, K. A., Drobatz, K. J., Downend, A. B., & Otto, C. M. (2004). Deployment morbidity among search-and-rescue dogs used after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 225(6), 868–873. https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.2004.225.868

Help Future Generations of Dogs

Participate in canine health research by providing samples or by enrolling in a clinical trial. Samples are needed from healthy dogs and dogs affected by specific diseases.

Learn How to Help

Get Canine Health News:
Please leave this field empty
American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, Inc

8051 Arco Corporate Dr.
Suite 300
Raleigh, NC 27617

Tax ID# 13-3813813

   2020 GuideStar logo

© 2021 AKC Canine Health Foundation | Privacy Policy | Site Map

Site by Blackbaud, Inc.