9/11 'hero dog' saved woman trapped in rubble for 27 hours

After that tragic day on 9/11/2001, there were more than 300 specially trained search-and-rescue dogs at Ground Zero in the days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. These dogs helped find survivors lost in the rubble. Later, they found trinkets like jewelry that could be returned to victims’ families. There were also canines who served as therapy dogs, helping survivors and first responders cope with their emotional trauma.

 In order to tell their story, documentary producer Tanya Kelen, produced a special for Animal Planet, "Hero Dogs of 9/11," which aired on Tuesday night. In it she spotlighted a number of incredible dogs, as well as the first responders, veterinarians and dog trainers who made their work possible. According to Kelen, “I’ve always been a dog lover, but it amazed me how many people didn’t know the story of the dogs at Ground Zero who were in charge of finding survivors.”

One of the stories that she profiled was that of Genelle Guzman-McMillan who worked in an office inside the World Trade Center. That fateful morning she heard a loud noise outside. She was one of about 15 employees from her team of Port Authority workers who all tried to evacuate the building at the same time.

She is the only one of the group who lived. “I felt the walls cave in,” she recalled. “It was dark and everything was rumbling.” Pinned under cement and steel and unable to move, she prayed and asked God to help her. Twenty-seven hours later, she would be the final living person rescued from the rubble at Ground Zero. However she was not found by a human rescuer but rather her savior was a one of the rescue dogs.

Describing her experience she said, “It’s so awesome that the dogs could have this kind of sense, to find people buried under the rubble. I felt total renewed life in me. ... That was the most joyful moment.” Genelle feels she is on a mission to keep telling her story because she’d been saved. Many other people are still too shaken up by their experience to share their stories.

Another incredible story about a dog’s love that day involves Michael Hingson, a blind World Trade Center employee who was led safely out of the building by his trusted canine companion, a yellow Labrador retriever named Roselle.

On his way out of the building, one of the firemen going up into the tower stopped to pet Roselle and cuddle her. Although guide dogs aren’t supposed to be petted, Hingson doesn’t regret that moment at all. “It was probably the last unconditional act of love he got," he said, since the fireman was killed that day in the line of duty.

Hingson later wrote a book, “Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero.” He became public affairs director for a seeing-eye-dog organization and Roselle traveled the world with him and died at the age of 13.

The documentary also showed how search-and-rescue dogs, many of whom are rescued from shelters, get trained to do their jobs. The search and rescue dogs from 911 played a very important role during those dark days in 2001, twelve years ago. Only a few of the dogs are still alive today.

Responses to "The documentary,"Hero Dogs of 9/11", was made to honor the heroic canines who helped to rescue the victims of that fateful day. (Video)"

  1. Anonymous says:

    these are awesome accounts, and greatly makes me appreciate these great heros even more.

  2. Anonymous says:

    In trying to rescue anyone that day and those that followed, these Rescue Dogs and the Firemen were the biggest Hero's of all. Thank each and everyone and every dog who put their lives on the line to help others. These words are far from adequate, but I hope you know how much we appreciate you. God Bless All of You.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Words fail me...this is so emotional...I remember that day clearly; watched in disbelieve this horror. No! not in our United
    states of America! The beautiful story of these extraordinary dogs and the many heroes that saved many lives; many loosing theirs, has turned my sorrow into a bittersweet memory. Tragedies usually bring out greatness in humans and that is the source of hope and faith restored.

Write a comment