00568-A: Surveillance of Chest Radiographs and Bloodwork in Dogs Deployed to the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Staten Island

Grant Status: Closed

Grant Amount: $12,912.8
Cynthia M. Otto, DVM, PhD; University of Pennsylvania
January 1, 2006 - December 31, 2006

Sponsor(s): American Boxer Charitable Foundation, Doberman Pinscher Club of America

Breed(s): -All Dogs
Research Program Area: General Canine Health
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We have been monitoring the health and behavior of 97 search and rescue dogs deployed on 9/11/01 to the Word Trade Center, including Staten Island, and the Pentagon disaster and 55 non-deployed control search and rescue dogs. Early changes identified in the deployed dogs include significantly higher serum globulin, bilirubin and alkaline phosphatase than controls. Annual evaluation of these values have demonstrated that the differences in bilirubin and globulin have resolved with the time. This temporary elevation suggests that the deployed dogs were exposed to more antigens and potentially toxins during deployment. Despite the absence of measurable toxins (lead, mercury, PCBs and organic chemicals) in any of the dogs, it is likely that the deployment-related exposures will lead to long-term health changes. In addition, to date there have been 17 deaths in the deployed group and 7 deaths in the controls. The incidence of deaths does not reach statistical significance, but the trend is important and warrants further investigation. Cancer has been a major cause of death in the deployed dogs (8 confirmed, 1 suspected) and 1 deployed dog has been diagnosed and is currently living with cancer. Early detection of cancer or other medical problems is critical for the medical well being of these dogs and provides a valuable incentive for handlers to continue their participation in this vital surveillance program. In order to evaluate the effect of deployment on rate and onset of cancer in these dogs, it is essential to continue to monitor the general health as well as the blood work and radiographs of these dogs and the controls throughout their natural lifespan.


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

Otto, C. M., Hare, E., Buchweitz, J. P., Kelsey, K. M., & Fitzgerald, S. D. (2020). Fifteen-year surveillance of pathological findings associated with death or euthanasia in search-and-rescue dogs deployed to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack sites. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 257(7), 734–743. https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.257.7.734

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