Sadly, disasters happen in this world with
earthquakes, tornadoes and bombs reducing huge office buildings to rubble. The dogs
who search out victims in these collapsed structures are called Disaster Search Dogs. They
are the only ones at this time who are trained to do this work and they must
submit to very difficult testing and national
certification standards. In our nation as of August 2001, there are only 48 dog and
handler teams trained to an Advanced level and certified as
Emergency Management Agency] Type 1 Advanced Canine Teams.
The above photo, taken at
the World Trade Center on September 14, 2001 by Gary Friedman of the Los Angeles Times,
shows Northern California firefighter Rob Cima taking a break with Advanced Golden
Search Dog Harley.
The dogs working at the World Trade Center disaster site provided a large morale boost.
Exhausted rescue workers often took the time to ask their names, find out where they were
from, and to give them a loving pat.
Preston Keres, a photographer with the US Navy, took the
incredible photo of Golden rescue dog Riley being transported out of the debris of
the World Trade Center on September 15, 2001.
Riley is a member of FEMA's PA TF 1. His
wonderful handler is Chris Selfridge, a fire fighter with Johnstown, Pennsylvania's Fire
Department, IAFF Local 463. We cannot believe the level of training that these special
workers must go through. Certainly, they need to be able to deal well with heights (which
would rule me out!). Below is video of Riley in action. The ending shot is
just classic, as Riley's head is cradled in one of the
rescue member's arms. (Click on the YouTube logo in the
lower right hand corner).
As Gerald Lauber of the Suffolk County Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals commented, ''All they really want to do is work hard and
love you. How can that not raise the human spirit in us all?'' But, these four-footed
furry workers tired as well in their hard work as shown in this wonderful AFP Golden photo
taken by Preston Keres.
Discover a great
Dog Heroes of
September 11th: A Tribute to America's
Search and Rescue Dogs.
The book details the stories of 77 handlers
and their Search and Rescue dogs who
responded at the World Trade Center &
Pentagon following the September 11th
attacks. Riley , a golden retriever, is
one of the most famous dogs of
Sept. 11 because of a photo
taken of him at the World Trade
Center site a few days after the
attacks. In the photo, Riley is
in a basket being sent over a
60-foot-deep canyon to search
the rubble of the North Tower.
"Normally when we send a dog,
the handler goes with him," said
Riley's trainer, Chris Selfridge.
"This time we decided it was
more practical to just send the
Explore and Learn More
more about disaster dogs and their tough training
And, check out this wonderful article,
When the Search is Over. And learn more about being prepared for disasters, which includes our
2-footed and 4-footed family members, as well as meeting
some very brave Ground Zero Goldens below.
Four-legged heroes at ground zero
By Lee J. DiVita, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
December 15, 2001
John Gilkey, an electrical engineer for the Lear Corporation in Carlisle, Pa.,
was doing the same thing most of the country was doing on the morning of Sept.
11: watching the news unfolding in New York City. He had called his wife, and
the head of the Pennsylvania State Urban Search and Rescue Task Force. By the
time he got back near the office television, and heard a plane had crashed into
the Pentagon, he had three words for his boss: "I'm outta here."
"I didn't know where I was going, but I was going somewhere," said Gilkey, also
a canine search specialist for the Pennsylvania State Urban Search and Rescue
Task Force, one of 27 federally sanctioned Federal Emergency Management Agency
task forces in the country. "I knew we had two situations going on: one in New
York, and one in Washington, D.C. I knew that our task force was the second
geographically closest to each of those incidents."
As Gilkey was driving home from work, he got the official page. He called his
wife again, told her he would be back in a few weeks, and went home to pick up
his dog Bear, an 8-year-old chocolate Labrador Retriever.
At the same time, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary
Medicine, Dr. Cindy Otto, associate professor of critical care and
board-certified specialist in emergency medicine and critical care, was
anticipating the same official call. Roseann Keller, an operations manager and
vice president for Salomon Smith Barney, State College, Pa., left work as well.
At noon, she got her official call to get Logan, her 7-year-old German Shepherd
Dog. The task force was being activated. She had a matter of hours to assemble
and be at the Harrisburg International Airport.
The bigger picture here is that Gilkey, Keller, and Dr. Otto are part of an
official FEMA team deployed after a presidential declaration that a site is in a
national state of emergency. The team is made up of 62 people, consisting of
search-and-rescue, medical, logistics, and technical components.
The entire team eventually met up at the Philadelphia Fire Academy. By 7 p.m.
EST, the buses and nine tons of equipment had arrived. An hour later the team
was en route to New York.
It was a long ride, as it wasn't until midnight, Sept. 12 that the team headed
The PA Task Force-1 SAR Dogs and their handlers in front of the Merrill Lynch
Building in NYC
Chris Selfridge & Riley; Bobbie Snyder & Willow; Dr. Cindy Otto; Roseann Keller
& Logan; and John Gilkey & Bear
On that drive, Gilkey, a longtime
volunteer EMT for his local fire department, learned that Battalion Chief
Special Operations Command Raymond Downey, veteran firefighter and
representative to all 27 FEMA task forces, had been lost in the collapse of the
World Trade Center buildings. "He's our spokesperson. He was in charge at the
Oklahoma City bombing incident," he said. "I thought to myself, 'Now it's
Dr. Otto kept her thoughts on the work ahead of the team. "My big reaction was
that I want to get out there and get working," she said. "I wanted the dogs to
get in there, and I wanted to make sure that they were able to do their jobs."
Keller's mind was on the possible survivors at the scene. "I was thinking that
we would have hundreds of survivors in that rubble," she said.
The group, in addition to seven other state and federal task forces, set up
their base of operation at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, on 34th
Street, a few miles north of ground zero. Their work began at 6:00 that evening.
Dr. Otto, Gilkey, and Keller were transported to ground zero in Army
half-tracks, as the people of New York City lined the streets and cheered on the
team. The 45-minute ride seemed surreal to Keller, and then she started to see
"It looked like a scene out of a bad movie," Keller said.
"Reading my notes [about the scene] makes my skin crawl," Dr. Otto said.
"Just the magnitude of things was incredible," Gilkey said. "I remember I had
tripped over a fireman's ladder ... and I realize what I'm standing on is a
[crushed] fire truck ... so, there's like 12 feet of rubble underneath me. It
was then that I realized how bad things really were."
As a FEMA medical support specialist, Dr. Otto was deployed specifically to care
for the search-and-rescue dogs. She was deployed to North Carolina after
Hurricane Floyd hit in 1999, and had predicted what care the dogs were going to
need. "[In] Oklahoma [we had] cuts and scrapes, and eye irritation. In New York
City, we had a much bigger problem with dehydration, and a lot of stress-related
problems," she said. "The dogs were working 12-hour shifts for eight days in a
row, which was an endurance event that they're not usually trained for."
As the dogs searched, the handlers needed to keep the hazardous environment in
mind. The biggest hazards to the dogs were combinations of dust, smoke,
asbestos, and unknown toxins they could have inhaled.
"In one of our briefings, they read off about two pages of hazardous materials
that could have been [at the scene]," Keller said.
Bear takes a break from searching at
ground zero to have some Kool-Aid, provided by handler John Gilkey.
The second hazard was the terrain. Gilkey said there was always a danger of
slipping on the broken glass, the metal shards, and the twisted steel from the
The next hazard was voids, where dogs could have fallen and been trapped. "[One
dog] fell down some hole and he ended up swimming in diesel fuel," Dr. Otto
And finally, there were hot spots. "There were places that they asked Logan to
search where I saw steam coming out of the ground," Keller said.
In the searches, Gilkey and Keller were desperate to hear a continuous bark, the
signal that their dogs had picked up the scent of a live person. They did a few
times, only to find that Logan and Bear had found firefighters working in the
voids, trying to recover victims. No victims were ever found by the Pennsylvania
team. The dogs were desperate, too. If no live victims were discovered, Bear
would not get his favorite Frisbee as a reward, and Logan her piece of garden
hose. The handlers did their best, as they were trained, to keep the dogs'
"My dog loves [people] clapping," Keller said. "As we would drive to and from
the scene, the clapping and cheering people lined up on the streets made her so
excited. She thought they were there to see her."
"Everyone has asked me if the dogs got depressed," Gilkey said. "The dog doesn't
know. At best, [I can] equate that Bear would be frustrated because he wasn't
getting his Frisbee."
At the end of the shifts, the handlers would decontaminate the dogs and give
them a well-deserved meal. Their medical care, though crucial, was not for
serious injuries. "A lot of the dogs did not have personal veterinary support
like Dr. Otto," Gilkey said. "If there was anything we needed we went to
Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams."
"I think Logan and Bear were lucky," Dr. Otto said. "My biggest job there was to
try and prevent injuries ... I would monitor how long they were out there and
get them back in. Once they were in, we could flush their eyes, we could check
their feet, we were making sure they were getting some rest, and we were making
sure they were drinking."
That Pennsylvania team stayed in New York City until Sept. 19, when a team from
Texas relieved them. In retrospect, Gilkey and Keller, who spent years training
and caring for the dogs that would be sent to the worst disaster the United
States has seen, wished they could have done more. At the same time, they were
so proud of their dogs.
"Now, Bear will retire as an advanced disaster dog because of his certification
and his experience [in New York City]," Gilkey said. "He went seven days without
serious injury, [alerting to] live and dead people, everything I trained him to
"When we left, I really hated to leave," Keller said, "because I felt like it
wasn't done. They were sending in another team, and talking about sending us in
for a second rotation, and I was glad about that."
At press time in early November, only a few New York City police dogs were
searching ground zero and the scene at Staten Island, where the majority of the
rubble and debris had been moved.
Back to Top
Here in this FEMA photo by Michael Rieger, Rescue worker
and his Golden partner Woody of the Ohio
Task Force Unit, are preparing to begin work at the site.
Best Friend Indeed: Woody's Work can be Lifesaver
By Cathy Mong, Dayton Daily News, October 1, 2001
Woody, like all dogs trained in search and rescue, is
happiest when working. "Search!" a command spoken by his handler, sends the
muscular, rust-colored Golden Retriever on a mission. Reporting any whiff of human life
that enters his sensitive black nostrils becomes a feverish game.
If his quest is successful, Woody gets a "Good
Boy!" and the chance to sink his teeth into his favorite toy, a footlong roll of
stuffed canvas called a "bite chew." Praise and play. "It's what he lives
for," said Terry Trepanier, a lieutenant with the Washington Twp. Fire Department and
Woody's partner in the 72-member Ohio Task Force One.
Trepanier and Woody were among the state's four K-9 teams that spent 10 days at Ground
Zero, in a hellish place unfit for man or beast. The canines' sense of smell, 40 times
more acute than humans, reached overload. "It was overwhelming for the dogs,"
Trepanier, 47, said.
Woody, and the other Ohio dogs--Tascha, a Belgian Malinois; Enil, a German Shepherd; and
Lucas, a Labrador Retriever--have extensive training through the Federal Emergency
Management Agency. They, like their handlers, wear federal identification. The dogs search
"naked" so their collars or tags don't become tangled in debris. "Nothing
could have prepared us for what we saw," Trepanier said.
One difficult aspect of the search was the hope reflected in the eyes of New York
firefighters at the sight of a K-9. They knew, Trepanier said, "if their brothers
were to be found, it would be by these dogs."
Teams of searchers included dog and handler, a medical specialist, structural engineer,
and rescue and technical search specialists. Outlying buildings were searched for
fragments. "These dogs can hit on human teeth, human hair," Trepanier said. The
stench of death was intense. "We carried jars of Vicks," he said, "and
rubbed it inside our air masks."
Not once did Woody or the other dogs legitimately get to display an alert for
"live-find" human scent. That disappointment affects a dog's mood, Trepanier
said, and eventually depresses the dog's desire to work. Woody's spirits were lifted, at
least once daily, by team members who hid in rubble and awaited the dog's boisterous,
incessant bark of discovery, his excited pawing and his absolute glee when he received his
pats and the end-all--his bite chew. "Even when we find a body or remains, we have to
give the same reward," he said.
Woody never questioned Trepanier's order to search. Into crevices he belly-crawled. Onto
I-beams he leapt, his agility training saving him from falls of 60 feet or more.
Woody was injured the first day. "Hey, Ohio, your doggie's bleeding," a
firefighter called to Trepanier. Deep slits on Woody's back pads, sliced by sharp objects,
were "super-glued" shut and the dog returned to work. When the veterinary team
arrived at the compound a few days later, Woody's pads were stitched. "He worked
right through the sutures," Trepanier said.
Woody was bred for this line of duty. Like certain makes of vehicles, Woody is referred to
as "utility." High strung, the 2-year-old Retriever is 60 pounds of muscle,
frenetic if not focused on a project. "He's always looking for something to do,"
Trepanier said. "He'd be too much for most people."
Airborne dust and irritants plagued the dogs, he said. "They got saline water shot up
their nose, eyes and ears, and we were always cleaning their pads." At FEMA's command
post in the Jacob Javitz Convention Center, K-9s had separate sleeping quarters, where
they fell exhausted after 12-hour shifts. "He'd have searched until he dropped,"
Trepanier said. "It's his work ethic."
Trepanier, a 28-year veteran firefighter and paramedic, is a member of the Miami Valley
Urban Search and Rescue Task Force, which evolved into the state and federal response
team; and is president of the Southwestern Ohio Search and Rescue and Ohio Federation of
K-9 Search Teams.
At home, Woody is joined by Sadie, a 6-year-old Golden Retriever also experienced in
searches. They're part of the family, which includes Trepanier's wife, Debbie; and
daughters Jessica, 16, and Tessa, who turned 10 while her father was in New York. Debbie
Trepanier is a flight attendant with Delta Airlines, so Sept. 11's terrorist hijackings of
commercial airplanes "were pretty hard for the girls to see," Trepanier said.
Ground Zero images, Trepanier said, have been deeply imprinted. "When we were working
on the pile, through the ash and smoke, I kept thinking it was the souls of 6,000 people
rising to the heavens."
There is no question in Trepanier's mind that dog is, indeed, a devoted friend to man.
"To know what they've been through and to see how they performed makes you proud. And
they never complain," he said. "They just wag their tails and say, 'Let's
Ohio Firefighter Recalls
Experiences at 9/11 as Part of Ohio Task Force One
Handler and His Dog Spent 10 Days Supporting Ground Zero
By Pamela Ferris-Olson, Contributing Writer, Dayton
Daily News (Ohio), September 9, 2006
WASHINGTON TWP., Montgomery County - Washington Twp.
firefighter Lt. Terry Trepanier is no stranger to
emergencies. They come with his job. This may explain
why Trepanier can speak matter-of-factly about his
search and rescue efforts at Ground Zero after the
collapse of the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11,
2001. "I really haven't thought a whole lot about it
until the fiveyear anniversary hit the news," Trepanier
said. "I think back then we were taken aback by the
enormity and devastation while we were there. Now,
reflecting back on it, I see the good things, the human
nature and how we were treated when we came back to
Trepanier and his 7-year-old, male golden retriever
Woody are part of the FEMA Ohio Task Force One search
and rescue team. The handler and his dog were dispatched
to New York City on Sept. 11 and spent 10 days on search
and rescue support. It's the small things that seem to
have affected Trepanier the most in regard to Sept. 11 -
such as his daughter, Tessa, turning 10 on Sept. 17,
"It was really hard for her and her sister. They had to
see me go off that day and endure me being there. And my
wife was a flight attendant and they had to deal with
that, too," Trepanier said.
Tessa is a freshman at Bellbrook High School. Her
sister, Jessie, 21, is a student at Sinclair Community
College. Something else that affected him was a nameless
young girl who thanked Trepanier for trying to help find
her father amid the destruction.
Trepanier, a member of the honor guard who stood at
Ground Zero during the first anniversary of Sept. 11,
was present when family members of the victims visited
the site. Even after four years, Trepanier was overcome
with emotion by this remembrance. "It really made you
aware of the loss they had. It really brought it home,"
The firefighter also recalled light-hearted moments.
"I'll never forget one member of our team who, during a
rest period, asked, 'Can't you put that dog on Ritalin?'
" Trepanier said. Woody, in Trepanier's words, was
bouncing off the walls. Energy is an asset in search and
Back to Top
These FEMA News Photos by Andrea
Booher show a Golden Urban Search & Rescue team in action. Well, a guy's gotta rest! I
am sure that Golden Thunder worked awful hard before getting this well deserved break from
Associated Press, September 25, 2001
At the World Trade Center, the dogs work in teams in
different sectors of the rubble. Structural engineers investigate areas to determine
whether they can safely be explored. Hazardous-materials specialists, known as
"Hazmat," look for pockets of jet fuel, diesel fuel, Freon and toner -- to name
a few. Then come the hounds. When they find remains, some will bark. Others are trained to
lie down. Rescue specialists move in to seek out what the dogs have located.
To counter the cut pads, exposure to chemicals and dehydration, the public health service
has deployed the Veterinary Assistance Medical Team, or VMAT. Working 12-hour shifts,
those men and women and volunteer veterinarians staff a medical station in the middle of
West Street, near Chambers Street, a few blocks north of the Trade Center ruins.
A 50-foot tent has a table of syringes, stations for ear cleaning and eye cleaning,
cabinets of gauze and bandages, bags of intravenous solutions hanging from posts, Musher's
Secret paw protection and enough toys, bones and biscuits to stock a pet shop. A sign
hanging inside reads, "Emergency Horns. 1 Horn=Silence. 3 Blasts=Evacuate."
Last Saturday night was quiet. As vets changed shifts at 11 p.m., no dog showed up for
hours. Then Cara, a two-year-old Beauceron herding dog, arrived. She had just tunneled
through a 40-foot space with a camera strapped to her. Her handler wanted her nails filed
and salve for her eyes. Vets checked her and found her to be slightly dehydrated and
recommended that she get fluids when she got off her shift. She returned to "the
pile" in a small vehicle 10 minutes later.
For the next three hours, only volunteers pushing shopping carts strolled by, offering up
food, flags and Dr. Scholl's shoe inserts. Every few minutes, huge twisted beams glided by
on flatbed trucks. A few minutes after 2 a.m., an ambulance with a massive police escort
including motorcycles headed north with the remains of a police officer. Two more
elaborate escorts made the same trip, one at 3:25 a.m. and another three hours and 10
At 5:01, the next patient rolled in -- a German Shepherd working as a patrol dog for the
New York City Police Department. Dwyer, his ears pointing behind him, was suffering from
diarrhea and was still skittish from being nipped on the rump by another dog. Mitch
Biederman, a volunteer vet, said Dwyer suffered from stress colitis. Another vet gave him
a physical and dispensed an antibiotic.
At 6 o'clock, a shift change took place, and with the Con Edison and Verizon telephone
workers streaming northward, the dogs arrived. First was Kinsey, a black Labrador
retriever who wagged her body more than her tail. The vet took her temperature and cleaned
her up. She grabbed a braided chew toy as her handler noted that there is the scent of
decaying flesh "everywhere. It's overwhelming."
Cholo, a German Shepherd, came in next. Like most of the specialty dogs, he is part of an
crew, this one from Texas. But he searches for survivors, not cadavers. And he didn't find
anybody on his shift, said Bert Withers, the search manager. To avoid depressing the dogs
after a disappointing day, some handlers will hide and let their dogs find them. The only
thing upsetting Cholo now was the shower he was about to get -- from a hose and bucket
hooked up to a makeshift tripod. From the look in his eyes, a bath was a betrayal.
Last on the scene was Thunder, a six-year-old Golden
Retriever who is part of the Puget Sound, Wash., Urban Search and Rescue. Thunder, too,
got a medical exam. He has been tunneling in through the rubble. "He's stressed out
that he can't be on the pile more," says his handler, Kent Olson.
After a bath rid him of the dust and grease on his head, Thunder headed for the rest area
uptown, while Porkchop, in his orange booties, headed for the pile. The fur on their hocks
swayed behind them as they trotted away. A vet shook her head and said, "Such good
dogs." This FEMA News photo of Thunder was taken by Andrea
Back to Top
Goldens Ana, Dusty & Harley
Here is a diary of some of Sacramento's FEMA
Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 7's recent journey. They left on September 11th, 2001
to help with the disaster at the World Trade Center in New York City. And after ten long
and hard days of searching for survivors in the rubble, this weary group of rescue workers
returned home. By the time the team reached the Sacramento city limits, the overpasses
were packed with patriotic residents proudly waiving flags. Task Force 7 was given a
hero's welcome as they stepped off of the plane at Travis Air Force Base a line of
officers waiting to welcome them home. It was very tough, though, as they returned having
uncovered no survivors.
Tuesday, September 11, 2001
Sacramento's Urban Search and Rescue Task Force7, a group who previously had responded to the Oklahoma City
disaster, was called upon on Tuesday morning to deploy to New York City. And, fifty-nine
men, three woman and four dogs (three Goldens: Ana, Dusty & Harley and one black Lab:
Abby) were given just six hours to prepare!
Firefighters from the Sacramento Metro Fire
District, the Sacramento Fire
Department, the West Sacramento Fire Department and the El Dorado County Fire Protection
District were all represented. They were accompanied by emergency room doctors, structural
engineers, police & fire chaplains, and trained dog handlers. An airlift of 42,000
pounds of equipment and supplies had to take place before they could leave.
The team was given a police escort from the California
Highway Patrol and the Sacramento Police, so clearing traffic for a speedy response to
Travis Air Force Base. And, amazingly, Task Force 7 departed on schedule at 1830 hours
(8:30 pm). Four Air Force F-15 fighters escorted the Galaxy C-5 transport airplane across
most of the United States. The aircraft was carrying a huge reserve of supplies as well as
very sophisticated search and rescue equipment. And, there were nearly three hundred units
of donated blood to be used for the victims of the disaster on the East Coast.
The team arrived safely on schedule at a staging area on
the East Coast.
Wednesday, September 12, 2001
The team rested for a few hours in base housing and then received a morning
briefing from a FEMA Incident Support Team. Along with Sacramento Taskforce 7, Urban
Search and Rescue teams from Missouri, Riverside, California, and Los Angeles, California
arrived throughout the night. The team spent the day getting their rescue equipment ready
and setting up a Base of Operations.
Thursday, September 13, 2001
Today the team split into two 31 person teams and started
24-hour operations in the area of Barclay & West Broadway at the World Trade Center
Tishman Center. This was the 47-story building which collapsed shortly after the World
Trade Center collapsed. The start of operations required transporting the rescue equipment
to a forward staging area near the site. The search dogs conducted searches of the
building and surrounding buildings. But, sadly, no victims were located. The remainder of
the team assisted the Structure Specialist in assessing building stability and locating
voids in the collapsed buildings.
The team indicated that the destruction was spread over
100 square blocks from Ground Zero, with debris piled 11-stories high. Due to unstable
buildings, there were concerns of being able to gain access.
Friday, September 14, 2001
The team was assigned to
divisions within the New York City Operational Area as part of a coordinated effort to add
to the local resources. They were doing well and conducting sub-grade searching through
debris and mountains of rubble. The surface search with the search dogs was progressing
well. And, while the dogs were getting excited, no actual hits were made. The facilities
at the site were limited, but the team was in good spirits.
is a special FEMA News photograph that was taken by Andrea Booher. Here President Bush was
taking time to meet the Urban Search & Rescue Teams who were working the World Trade
I am sure that the members of Sacramento's Task Force 7,
who are shown here, were quite honored (well maybe not our Golden workers who just
welcomed President Bush's attention as that of another friendly encounter).
You can tell the President is definitely a 'dog' person
by the way he is giving them tickles around the ears and chin, just where our buddies like
Monday, September 17, 2001
The Sacramento team continued to work alongside and in support of New York fire
and police personnel. Specifically, they worked with seventy to eighty members of NYPD's
Emergency Services Unit on search and support operations. Minor injuries, aches, and pains
were noted due to workers walking on uneven debris fields.
Wednesday, September 19, 2001
Golden Dusty and his working partner, Sacramento Metro Fire Captain Randy Gross got to
ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange. This was a nice break from all of
the hard work.
Special thanks go to National Disaster Search Dog
Foundation President/CEO Wilma Melville, the Sacramento City Fire Department and
Foundation Volunteer Liz Harward for their support and permission to reprint the glorious
Golden photos shown above. Individual photographers include Captain Rick Lee, Captain
Kristi Sergeant, and Tom Parker.
Back to Top
Hometown hero nominated for G.R.A.C.E. Award
Hoboken Recorder, July 20, 2002
people probably aren't familiar with the awards established to honor special
Golden Retrievers nationwide. Although it may seem like a silly idea,
winning a G.R.A.C.E. award means a lot to any rescued Golden Retriever; it
means he was lucky enough to get a second chance at life, spirited enough to
do something with it.
Golden Rescue And Community Excellence (G.R.A.C.E.) Awards were created in
honor of an Arizona rescue dog named "Grace" who maintained her dignity and
sweet disposition despite years of abuse, neglect, and eventually
abandonment. The purpose of the G.R.A.C.E. Awards is to recognize rescued
Goldens all over the nation who have accomplished something significant and
exceptional, overcoming the odds of being an abandoned or unwanted animal.
All nominees have been rescued and given a second chance at a useful and
Hoboken is lucky enough to have a local named Jagger nominated this year.
His story is a happy one that shows how small organizations are able to do
so much locally to help the community by helping animals.
Anyone who has been to a Rolling Stones concert has seen Mick Jagger's thin,
lanky body literally bounding across the stage. Imagine the same raw energy
in a nine month old, untrained, unsocialized male Golden Retriever puppy.
Here in Hoboken is where the story of Jagger the Golden Retriever begins.
In April 2000, one of our volunteers of a local organization called Golden
Re-Triever Rescue of New Jersey (GRRI-NJ) heard about a man walking down the
streets asking everyone he met if he or she wanted a Golden Retriever or
knew someone who might. The volunteer was soon able to locate this dog owner
and offer him the services of GRRI-NJ. As no one up to this point had seemed
interested in the puppy, the owner was prepared to take the unfortunate
puppy to a shelter the very next day - a shelter that was not a happy place
to be due to overcrowding and abysmal adoption rates.
The volunteer immediately set up an appointment to go to the dog owner's
home to complete an intake evaluation. In her report to GRRI, she wrote "I
have NEVER met a more out of control dog than Jagger. It was like he was
spring loaded, and the least bit of anything -- attention, food, any
distraction -- would set him off BIG TIME."
Transporting Jagger out of Hoboken the next morning proved to be a nightmare
for his rescuers. He panted and paced non-stop int he back seat for the next
hour as he was driven to board and train facility where he would remain
until an Adoption Coordinator could figure out where he might be placed.
Despite Jagger's hyperactive nature, he had a friendly nature and deserved a
chance. The volunteers at GRRI-NJ knew that rescue was his only hope.
As sheer luck, or divine intervention, one of the training officers from the
Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) K-9 unit soon called the GRRI
hotline inquiring about the availability of a high energy young dog that
they could train to be an explosives sniffing dog. They were looking for a
male or female, between the ages of one and two years. While Jagger was only
nine months old, the volunteers knew they couldn't let this opportunity
pass; Jagger was perfect for the job, and had few other options for
After hearig a lot of fast talking and some pleading, the PAPD decided to
meet Jagger. They soon agreed to take him under the condition that the dog
could be returned if he didn't perform to their high expectations. While the
idea of a returned animal is not one volunteers like to consider, it was a
chance they decided to take for Jagger's sake.
As PAPD training classes didn't start for two weeks, Police Officer Richie
Colon, Jagger's new partner, took his feisty new dog home. It was a rough
two weeks in the Colon household as they tried to keep Jagger from literally
destroying the place, but this small sacrifice soon paid off.
Throughout the twelve-week class, Jagger was introduced, or imprinted with
over 14 different odors, ranging from gunpowder to dynamite to any substance
used to make explosives. He was taught to search over, under, in and around
vehicles, buildings, parcels, and trees. He searched warehouses, rode on
subways, planes, trains and automobiles. Jagger's instructors had never seen
anything like him; he was a natural. He would immediately drop into a "sit
and point" the moment he caught the scent. There was no fooling him. Jagger
was on the brink of his new career in law enforcement. He was officially
adopted on May 30, 2000.
It was a very proud day when the GRRI_NJ volunteers attended Jagger's
graduation from training school. He was now an explosives detection dog,
certified by the United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) and was an
official, badge-carrying police dog! GRRI presented Jagger with a bag of
all-natural dog bisquits, and his partner Richie with a Golden Re-Triever
Rescue T-shirt. The new crime-fighting team in turn presented GRRI with an
appreciation plaque from the PAPD.
Jagger and Richie were assigned to patrol the World Trade Center complex
across the river in lower Manhattan. Every morning they would start their
routine, patrolling each and every level of all sever WTC buildings,
investigating all trucks and vans entering the garage and sniffing every
parked car in the perimeter of the complex. Then they would move outside and
do their "high profie" walk - sniffing the grounds outside. They became a
very well known sight as they made their rounds, man and dog, each wearing
their badge and doing the job they loved.
Thankfully, Richie and Jagger were off-duty on September 11, 2001. However,
his classmate, Sirius, a young yellow lab, was not as fortunate, and was the
only canine service dog killed in the line of duty.
Although the towers were gone, Richie and Jagger's job wasn't. New threats
were coming in daily. Tunnels and bridges were closed; the city was in
lockdown. Rich and Jagger were re-assigned to Teterboro Airport in New
Jersey. Their job was to search every plane that was cleared for take-off as
the airport was closed down. Eventually they were moved to tunnel-duty,
conducting searches that alternated between the Lincoln and Holland tunnels.
These partners still do daily checks of trucks and vans bound to Manhattan
This however, isn't Jagger's only important job; he's also the VIP greeter
at both LaGuardia and Kennedy Airports. This means that every time a
visiting dignitary comes to New York City, Jagger and Rich are there prior
to the visit, ensuring everything is safe. They search the landing strips,
the airport complex and the waiting limousines. Jagger has even met the
President of Zambia and the Consul from South Korea.
The working team of Port
Authority Police Officer Rich Colone and his wonderful
Golden Re-Triever Rescue-New Jersey Bomb
Sniffing Golden, Jagger, were recently stationed at the World Trade Center. They are
currently both doing fine and have been redeployed to Teterboro Airport.
Whenever President Bush visits the area, it's
our own Jagger who searches the lead cars associated with the car pool,
secures the tarmac, the airport terminal and the exits. Nothing is left
un-sniffed by this hometown hero.
Quite often this PAPD-duo partner with other police agencies to investigate
bomb threats at municipal buildings and area high schools. Recently they
searched the Jersey City Department of Motor Vehicles building and five high
As if keeping the citizens of New York and New Jersey safe were not enough,
Rich and Jagger also assume the responsibility of teaching the public about
what they do. They frequently visit local elementary schools, demonstrating
Jagger's amazing sniffing capabilities to the delight of local youngsters.
If this story sound familiar, you might have heard of Jagger when he and
Officer Colon were featured in reports on several area news stations. If you
have never heard of Jagger before today, you still have your chance to catch
the duo in action. On September 11, 2002 the first anniversary of the
terrorist attack, the television network A&E will feature a two-hour
exclusive broadcast on the aftermath of the WTC attack and Port Authority
security. Officer Colon and Jagger will be shown searching trucks at the
George Washington Bridge crossing between New Jersey and New York.
It's amazing that Jagger's life took such a dramatic turn - from a life of
neglect in the shadow of the New York City skyline to that of police dog
assuming a critical role at the tallest buildings in New York. GRRI-NJ has
many reasons to be proud of Jagger's success and hopes that Hoboken will
cheer him on to victory at the G.R.A.C.E. awards.
Jagger and his partner risk their lives everyday to keep us safe - something
especially appreciated in the aftermath of the horrific events last
September. For his dedication, loyalty and commitment to the job, Golden Re-Triever
Rescue of New Jersey felt obligated to nominate Jagger for the 2002
G.R.A.C.E. Award in the area of Law Enforcement.
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