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To determine characteristics of working dogs used during the disaster response after the bombing in Oklahoma City and risk factors for injuries and illnesses of those dogs, and to document recommendations for future disaster responses.



Study Population

Information for 74 working dogs used at the bombing site.


Dog handlers were identified and asked to complete a questionnaire. Questions were asked about the training and use of each dog, use of paw protection, injuries and illnesses incurred, possible effects after completion of duty at Oklahoma City, and handler's experience.


Data were obtained for all 74 dogs used at the site. Handlers of 69 of 74 (93%) dogs responded. The dogs had been extensively trained and were used 491 dog-days at the site, with 46 dogs used in search, 14 in patrol, 12 in explosive-detection duty, and 2 in search/patrol. Fifteen (22%) dogs became ill. Nineteen (28%) dogs incurred 20 injuries. Footpad injuries constituted 18 of the injuries. Only 16 of 69 (23%) dogs were provided with paw protection. Dogs were more likely to be injured when they were used in a search capacity, were used during the first 2 days after the bombing, were German Shepherd Dogs, or were older.

Clinical Implications

Although working in a highrisk environment, injuries to dogs were few, and most were minor. Specific recommendations could facilitate use of dogs in disaster situations and improve safety for those dogs. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998;212: 1202–1207)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association