Portraits of the last surviving 9/11 rescue dogs

by Rebecca on September 16, 2011

in Animal Pictures,Animal Stories

The 9/11 rescue dogs: Portraits of the last surviving animals who scoured
Ground Zero one decade later

By Anna Edwards

During the chaos of the 9/11 attacks, where almost 3,000 people died, nearly
100 loyal search and rescue dogs and their brave owners scoured Ground Zero
for survivors.

Now, ten years later, just 12 of these heroic canines survive, and they have
been commemorated in a touching series of portraits entitled ‘Retrieved’.

The dogs worked tirelessly to search for anyone trapped alive in the rubble,
along with countless emergency service workers and members of the public.

Moxie, 13, from Winthrop, Massachusetts, arrived with her handler, Mark
Aliberti, at the World Trade Center on the evening of Tuesday, September 11,
2001, and searched the site for 8 days

Tara, 16, from Ipswich, Massachusetts, arrived at the World Trade Centre on
the night of the 11th. The dog and her handler Lee Prentiss were there for 8

Kaiser, 12, pictured at home in Indianapolis, Indiana was deployed to the
World Trade Center September 11, 2001, and looked for people in the rubble

Traveling across nine states in the U.S. from Texas to Maryland, Dutch
photographer Charlotte Dumas, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their
twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a
full decade on from 9/11.

Their stories have now been compiled in a book, called Retrieved, which is
published on Friday, the tenth anniversary of the attacks.

Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte
wanted ‘Retrieved’ to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001
attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their

‘I felt this was a turning point, especially for the dogs, who although are
not forgotten, are not as prominent as the human stories involved,’
explained Charlotte, who splits her time between New York and Amsterdam.

‘They speak to us as a different species and animals are greatly important
for our sense of empathy and to put things into perspective.’

Bretagne and his owner Denise Corliss from Cypress, Texas, arrived at the
site in New York on September 17, remaining there for ten days.


Bretagne takes a break from work at the 9/11 site with Denise

Guinness, 15, from Highland California, started working with Sheila McKee
on the morning of the 13th and were deployed to the World Trade Center for
11 days

Guinness works at the 9/11 site shortly after the attacks

Merlyn and his handler Matt Claussen were deployed to Ground Zero on the 24th
September, working the night shift for five days

Most of the search and rescue dogs are Labradors or Golden Retrievers and
Charlotte feels that the title works across many aspects of the story.

‘I found the dogs, I retrieved them, they were there to retrieve the
victims, it is nicely rounded,’ explained Charlotte whose work is being
exhibited at the Julie Saul Gallery NYC opening on September 8, in time for
the anniversary.

After working on a project about police canines and other working dogs, she
was inspired to concentrate on the animals that played such a huge part in
seeking survivors.

Contacting the NYPD, the New York Fire Department and the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, Charlotte discovered that out of the nearly 100 dogs
among the first responders deployed by FEMA, there were in fact only 15
still alive last year.

Red, 11, from Annapolis, Maryland, went with Heather Roche to the Pentagon
from September 16 until the 27 as part of the Bay Area Recovery Canines

Abigail the dog and Debra Tosch were deployed on the evening of September
17 at the World Trade Center and then searching for 10 days

Abigail, left, was deployed on the evening of September 17, searching for 10
days while Tuff arrived in New York at 11:00 pm on the day of attack to
start working early the next day

‘They were there for the first few weeks, they were trained to find people
alive, although that is ultimately not what happened,’ said Charlotte, who
will hold a fundraiser for the First Responder Alliance at Clic Bookstore in
New York on September 29.

‘I traveled across the United States to meet with the owners and portray the
dogs. They are all retired and I spent time with each of their handlers
learning about their experiences.

‘It was moving talking to Denise Corliss, who is the handler and owner of
Bretagne, one of the Golden Retrievers.

‘She told me a touching story of one fireman who was there in the rubble,
and how taken he was with Bretagne who comforted him as he sat down to catch
his breath.

Handler Julie Noyes and Hoke were deployed to the World Trade Centre from
their home in Denver on September 24 and searched for 5 days


Searching for survivors: The dogs tirelessly worked to help find those who
survived the horrific attacks

‘Years later at a Remembrance Ceremony, the same fireman recognized Bretagne
and her handler and they had a touching reunion.

‘It developed that even though the dogs couldn’t find people still alive,
they could provide comfort for the brave firemen and rescue workers of the
emergency services.’

Wishing to tell the other side of heroism from 9/11, each of Charlotte’s
encounters with dogs such as Gabriel and Orion and Scout stayed with her.

‘The dogs are now old and they will soon pass away. Even during the time it
has taken since my first work on the ‘Retrieved’ portraits to now, three of
the final 15 have died,’ said Charlotte.

‘These portraits are about how time passes, and how these dogs and their
portraits are offering us a way to deal with the things that happened as
well as relying on them for comfort.’


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