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updated 8/10/01
Special appeal for US recovery dogs

OVER THE past four weeks, we've all seen numerous stories and articles about the Search And Rescue dogs working through the rubble of the World Trade Center, now dubbed 'Ground Zero' in New York, and they're doing a wonderful job. But there is another, separate group of highly trained dogs working just as hard.

These dogs are working at the huge landfill site in Staten Island, where the rubble from the WTC is being taken. These dogs are all cadaver-trained. Not all SAR dogs will look for bodies or body parts, but these dogs have been trained to do exactly this, and it constitutes a particularly harrowing task for dog and handler alike.

The dogs and their handlers are making a final check of all the debris in the hope of finding a piece of skin or bone to provide the DNA evidence that will give closure to the thousands of bereaved families, finally allowing them to bury and mourn thir loved ones who perished in the terrorist attack on September 11th.

American dog enthusiast Lynne Rutenberg who shows under the prefix Ferromont Newfoundlands has a close association with the work of the 'cadaver dogs'. Lynne takes up the story: "I'm aware of their task because one of the handlers is my veterinarian, Karen Dashfield, DVM. She and her German Shepherd Sophie have been spending about half of every week there.

"The dedication of these volunteers is amazing. The site is so toxic that the handlers have to change clothes from the underwear on out. But they're there, and they're risking their canine partners. They travel at their own expense and many are losing wages by doing so.

"As of last week, the volunteer dogs have been pulled out, and the 'professional' dogs, the ones who have been working at Ground Zero, will be taking over. But these volunteers will be returning, if needed.

"A fund has been set up to help this operation. The money will primarily be used for supplies for the dogs, but any surplus will help the volunteers who have spent more than five full days, and that's a LOT of people, to cover expenses. Equipment must be replaced because of toxic exposure, and money will be set aside to help with future medical expenses for the dogs as a result of their experience in such a dangerous environment. We're asking dog lovers, people everywhere to make a donation if they possibly can to help keep this total operation moving and to directly help the dogs and their handlers. Please send whatever you can, it will be used to maximum effect."*Donations can be sent to: The Recovery Dog Fund, c/o Karen Dashfield DVM, 544 Route 94, Newton, NJ 07860, USA.