9/11 search-rescue dogs' health studied

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 25 2004 9:34 a.m. MDT

No Utah dogs are among the 14 search-and-rescue dogs that died after being exposed to toxic rubble at the World Trade Center.

Eight of the 14 dogs died from cancer, according to a study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, although the study found no connection between the toxins and the deaths.

"We can't find any link at this point that ties the 14 deaths to events of Sept. 11," said Dr. Cynthia Otto, the study's lead researcher. "Some have passed away, but the causes of death are no different than in the control group."

A crew of 62 men and women from Utah, along with four search dogs, spent more than a week at Ground Zero just days after the attack. But as of Tuesday, all of the Utah K9s were reportedly in good health.

"I talked to one of the handlers the other day, and she assured me her dog was fine and the other three dogs all had clean bills of health," said Unified Fire Authority Capt. Scott McBride.

In fact, Unified Fire Authority Capt. Michael Jensen said the humans may have been more affected.

"All of us had respiratory problems for three months," he said.

Those problems included sinus infections, Jensen said.

The four dogs, all from Rocky Mountain Rescue Dogs, sorted through the rubble for nine days. Since that time they have all received regular checkups, McBride said.

Currently, McBride said the dog handlers from Utah that were at Ground Zero aren't overly concerned about their K9s contracting a fatal disease from the toxic rubble. If new information is developed that directly links toxins from Ground Zero to the deaths of several search dogs, McBride said they'll re-evaluate things from there. The Pennsylvania study monitored the health of 97 dogs from Ground Zero, the Pentagon and the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island and did find "significantly higher" antibodies in the dogs in the first year after the attack.

Otto said that simply showed the dogs were exposed to foreign substances that pushed their immune systems into high gear.


Contributing: New York Daily News

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

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