The World Trade Center
attacks prompted an intense
search-and-rescue effort.
How have the 9/11 dogs and
their human handlers been
faring? Two Penn professors,
Dr. Cindy Otto and Dr. Melissa
Hunt, are trying to find out.

By Susan Frith
Photography by Candace diCarlo


is the word Lynne Engelbert whispers into her dog Lucy’s ear when she needs her to find the dead: a body, a piece of skin, even a tooth that will give an answer to someone’s loved ones.

And in late September 2001, crossing a pile of mangled steel that used to be part of the World Trade Center complex, the 10-year-old Border collie followed that command, returning to sit by her handler’s side to announce a discovery.

“Show me,” said Engelbert, a volunteer from Saratoga, California, who is now taking part in a three-year Penn-based study of the September 11 search-and rescue dogs and their handlers.

Lucy went to the spot, tapped it with her nose, and came back with an ebullience that could not be misread. “She was in my face: ‘I’ve done my job. Give me my reward.’”

Engelbert, a veteran rescue-worker from the Oklahoma City bombing who works professionally as an emergency-response-and-recovery program coordinator for NASA, couldn’t see anything, but she knew that Lucy had given a “rock-solid alert.” So she took off her glove and used it to play a game of tug with her dog.

Four hours later, the body of a firefighter was recovered deep within the wreckage at that very spot.

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Copyright 2002 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 9/02/02