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  • Author or Editor: Naomi Cogger x
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A longitudinal study followed search-and-rescue (SAR) dogs for 15 years to determine the incidence of health events and whether factors of deployment during 9/11, breed, or sex altered the risk of specific events.


150 SAR dogs: 95 dogs deployed to the September 11 terrorist attack sites and 55 SAR dogs not deployed.


Each year, a survey was sent to the handler to collect health information until the dog died or the handler withdrew from the study. The reported health events were then categorized according to the body system affected and etiology. Incidence risk rates, with 95% CIs, were calculated for the most common types of health events. Incidence rate ratios were calculated stratified by deployment status, sex, and breed and significance assessed.


1 or more health event was recorded in 96 of the 150 enrolled dogs. The most affected systems were the musculoskeletal (31%; CI, 24 to 39), integumentary (22%; CI, 15 to 29), and gastrointestinal (20%; CI, 14 to 26). The health events were most commonly reported as inflammatory (45%; CI, 37 to 53) and degenerative (28%; CI, 21 to 35) in nature. There were no significant differences in incidence of health events based on deployment status to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Additionally, there was no significant effect of breed or sex on incidence of health events.


To improve the health and longevity of SAR dogs, disease prevention and management programs should focus on reducing the health problems involving the musculoskeletal system as well as the integumentary and gastrointestinal systems.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association