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Remembering 9/11 SAR Teams
September events honor human and canine rescue teams

As we approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11, there are many victims to remember and many heroes to honor. Among those to pay tribute to are the hundreds of search and rescue (SAR) dogs who worked alongside police, firefighters, and other rescue workers at the World Trade Center. Like many others involved in the rescue efforts, canine SAR teams are mostly made up of volunteers who willingly put themselves at risk to help others.

SAR dog advocacy group, Finding One Another, is teaming up with the Tails of Hope Foundation, an organization dedicated to advancing veterinary and human medicine, to honor SAR teams through a series of commemorative and educational programs.

The following are three highlights from their September calendar. The Finding One Another website has details on additional events.

Recognition Ceremony at Liberty State Park (September 11 at 1 p.m. in Jersey City, N.J.)
This ceremony will honor the canine SAR teams, veterinarians, Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams (VMATs) and other working dogs and handlers that played an instrumental part in the 9/11 rescue efforts. The event will start with a processional march led by teams who served at the World Trade Center and end with SAR dog demos. Thousands of SAR teams are expected to participate in the event.

Penn Vet Working Dog Center 2011 International Conference
(September 7-9 in Pearl River, N.Y.)

The theme of the conference is “Defining, Developing, and Documenting Success in Working Dogs.” Participants will discuss advancements that benefit working dogs and increasing public awareness about SAR dogs and the risks that they face on the job.

The conference is chaired by Cynthia M. Otto, DVM, PhD, DACVECC, Co-Chair of the 9/11 Tenth Anniversary SAR Tribute and Associate Professor of Critical Care at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Participants are expected to attend from all over the world.

SAR Photography & Artifact Exhibit (through September 2011 in West Nyack, N.Y.)
This exhibit at the Palisades Center Mall will feature photographs, large banners, and artifacts that depict the SAR community’s work at the 9/11 sites and elsewhere. A kickoff event will be held on September 9 and will include artistic performances and demonstrations. Portions of the exhibit will be donated to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

We owe so much to the dogs and handlers who worked alongside rescue workers on September 11th. It's important to advocate for them so that we never forget the risk they took, and still take, every time they come to the aid of people in need.

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by Preston Keres.

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