When their owners, and their city, needed them, these dogs proved themselves incredibly heroic, helping their owners survive the 9/11 terrorist attack in NYC and working to find others trapped in the rubble.

If you’re a working dog, you’re trained to ignore loud noises. Roselle and Salty ignored the sound of the World Trade Centers collapsing around their owners and guided them to safety because it was their job to do so.
The guide dogs brought their owners down dozens of flights of stairs and, contrary to their training, let the ascending firefighters pet them in the stairwells. Roselle and Salty shared the Dickin Medal from the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals in 2002.

Other hero dogs include Jake, a black Lab who would go on to help during Hurricane Katrina; Trakr, a German Shepherd who found the last living survivor in the WTC rubble, and Bretagne, a rescue dog who received a hero’s funeral when she died in 2016.

Did you know?

  1. More than 100 search and rescue dogs were brought to the World Trade Center site following the 9/11 attacks.
  2. Roselle, a guide dog helped guide her blind owner, Michael Hingson, down 78 flights of stairs to safety in WTC 1.
  3. Another guide dog, Salty, guided his blind owner, Omar Rivera, down 71 flights of stairs in Tower 1.
  4. Many of the search and rescue dogs that worked in NY or DC later helped other efforts in natural disasters.
  5. The AKC & Canine Health Foundation found rescue dogs had a 30% mortality rate five years after the attacks, compared to 22% in others dogs.
  6. Vets were on hand round the clock at Ground Zero to care for the dogs’ cut paws and make sure they were able to breathe properly.
  7. Only one dog, Sirius, died during the attack: His partner, Officer David Lim, left the bomb-sniffing dog in his crate when the tower was hit.
  8. Salty and Roselle were recognized internationally for their bravery. Salty died in 2008; Roselle died in 2011.
  9. The last surviving 9/11 rescue dog, Bretagne, died in 2016 and received a hero’s funeral in her hometown of Cyprus, Texas.
  10. It’s ok, we’re teary about these outstanding dogs too. What did we do to deserve them?

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Amber Healy

Amber Healy has been writing, both personally and professionally, since she nagged her hometown paper to give her an internship in 1996. She's a big believer that the most fascinating stories are hidden under layers of seemingly boring drivel.