Veterinarians head to Ground Zero to help rescue dogs


VE board member reports from the trenches of 9/11.

Two days after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, Dr. Stephanie Ulrich of Massapequa, N.Y., heard on local radio that veterinarians were needed at the crash site to care for the dogs involved in the search-and-rescue mission. Dr. Ulrich; her husband, Jerome Imprevento; and four staff members from the Massapequa Pet Vet Hospital in Massapequa immediately volunteered for the next day's late shift from 11 p.m. to 11 a.m. at the K-9 MASH unit VMAT set up near the site.

The volunteers took a crash cart, IV fluids, catheters, antibiotics, bandages, eye wash, stethoscopes, towels and blankets, dog food, and booties to the MASH unit. As the dogs left "the pile" with their trainers, they stopped at the station for veterinary care.

The dogs suffered irritated eyes and minor cuts and abrasions to their foot pads and between their pads, which affected their ability to walk. One dog named Amo had fallen on his back during his search efforts, suffered numerous abrasions, and was totally exhausted from being on the pile from many hours. Amo had made so many "hits" finding body parts that people didn't want to let him go. Amo was finally relieved of his duty, hospitalized, and given pain medication, antibiotics, and IV fluids. After some rest, he was discharges-a hero for his Herculean efforts.

"Nothing you see on television can prepare you for the extensive devastation and incredible sadness of that scene," says Dr. Ulrich. "What amazed me were the huge crowds at ground zero: firefighters, police officers, bureaucrats, dog handlers, contractors, military veterans, emergency-room workers, civilian survivors still coated with gray ash, chaplains, and utility workers toiling around the clock. They were united in their efforts to find survivors and help each other in any way possible."

Among the truckloads of food brought in for the workers were sandwiches made, in many cases, by children. The wrappers carried handwritten message that conveyed the thoughts of all Americans: "God bless America. We love you for doing this."

Bob Levoy is a seminar speaker in Roslyn, N.Y. Levoy has written for Veterinary Economics since 1988.

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