9/11/01 was a day that changed our nation.  We lost many innocent Americans that fateful day.  There were many heroes that day; first responders who gave their lives to help save others from death, ordinary citizens helping others to safety and our brave airline passengers who rallied to save The White House. 

In the aftermath of that horrible day, there was another breed of hero whose work had just begun, the canine search and rescue dogs.  These dogs spent many hours at ground zero and later at the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island. 

The highly trained search dogs worked with search and rescue personnel to help sift through the remnants of the World Trade Center.  It is estimated that the rescue personnel spent 1.7 million hours searching through the remains.  The efforts help identify 300 people.

Search and rescue dogs are highly trained to pick up scents and track them.  The dogs train for one and a half to two years to perfect their skills.  They are specially trained in various disciplines.  Certifications include urban disaster search, wilderness search, tracking and trailing, and cadaver and evidence search.

The efforts of these dogs are supported by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation.  This national group has a goal to build a specialized training center to train dogs and handlers in search and rescue.  Please visit their website to learn more about this group or to donate to this worthy cause.