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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


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)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objectives—To determine characteristics, variables associated with deployment morbidity, and injuries and illnesses of search-and-rescue dogs associated with the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Design—Historical cohort study.

Animals—96 dogs.

Procedure—Data collected included previous medical or surgical history, physical attributes of dogs, type and number of years of training, site of deployment, shift and hours worked, and number of days deployed. Combined morbidity was defined as 1 or more abnormalities of body systems, including traumatic injuries.

Results—Handlers of 96 of the 212 dogs responded to the surveys. Fifty-nine dogs were deployed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 10 by police forces, and 27 as members of other search-and-rescue teams. Sixty-five dogs (incidence rate, 17 events/1,000 dog search hours) had combined morbidity during deployment. System-specific morbidity rates included gastrointestinal tract signs (5 events/1,000 dog search hours), cuts and abrasions mostly on the feet (5 events/1,000 dog search hours), fatigue (6 events/1,000 dog search hours), change in appetite (6 events/1,000 dogs search hours), dehydration (5 events/1,000 dog search hours), respiratory tract problems (2 events/1,000 dog search hours), heat exhaustion (2 events/1,000 dog search hours), and orthopedic or back problems (2 events/1,000 dog search hours). Dogs deployed to the World Trade Center were 6.6 times more likely to have combined morbidity, compared with dogs at the Pentagon.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Injury and illnesses occurred in most dogs and affected several organ systems, but all were minor. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:868–873)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association