Objective—To evaluate early medical and behavioral
effects of deployment to the World Trade Center,
Fresh Kills Landfill, or the Pentagon on responding
search-and-rescue (SAR) dogs.
Design—Prospective double cohort study.
Animals—The first cohort included SAR dogs responding
to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks
(deployed), and the second cohort included SAR dogs
trained in a similar manner but not deployed (controls).
Enrollment occurred from October 2001 to June 2002.
Procedure—Dogs were examined by their local veterinarians;
thoracic radiographs and blood samples
were shipped to the University of Pennsylvania for
analysis. Handlers completed medical and training
histories and a canine behavioral survey.
Results—Deployed dogs were older and had more
search experience than control dogs. Serum concentrations
of globulin and bilirubin and activity of alkaline
phosphatase were significantly higher in deployed
dogs, independent of age and training. Despite significant
differences in several blood parameters, values
for both groups were within reference ranges. No pulmonary
abnormalities were detected on radiographs,
and no significant differences in behavior or medical
history were detected between groups.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Within the first
year following the September 11 attacks, there was no
evidence that responding dogs developed adverse
effects related to their work. Mild but significantly higher
serum concentrations of globulin and bilirubin and
activity of alkaline phosphatase in deployed dogs suggested
higher antigen or toxin exposure. These dogs
will be monitored for delayed effects for at least 3
years. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:861–867)