“A few days after the towers fell, I eventually left the house and went to ground zero with my cameras. I got as close as I could to the VMAT tent on West Street at Chambers Street (Veterinary Medical Assistance Team)
This was the first time the federal government used VMATs. Their job was to care for service dogs, searching for the missing.
I spent two days with them and met dogs and handlers from across the country. I recall the men, women, and their pets’ solemn exit from “the pile”. The dogs were said to be saddened by the lack of survivors.
A handler I met, Erick Robertson, awoke on 9-11 and drove his dog Pork-chop across the country to participate in the hunt. This summer, we reconnected. He said the last of the 9/11 search and rescue dogs had died recently. Pork-chop was long gone, and Erick had survived cancer. He is also preparing a memorial display for search and rescue dogs.
It’s good to recall the country’s solidarity in those days and months, especially in New York City. My memory today is of our city and country’s unity as Americans. “My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers,'” I awoke thinking of Mr. Rogers. You will always find helpers.’ And I am always reassured by the knowledge that there are still so many helpers — so many loving people in this world.”
The human rescuers had to stage successful rescues to keep the hounds’ morale up. They were saddened by the lack of successful (alive) rescues compared to the number of dead. We deserve no dogs.”