JERSEY CITY, N.J.— Fifty-one members of Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams (VMAT) responded following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. A decade later, the country paid tribute to the 2,977 people who lost their lives and the thousands of fire-fighters, emergency medical and police responding to the crisis during multiple ceremonies in and around Manhattan, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
AVMA President Dr. René A. Carlson and AVMA Scientific Activities Director Dr. Heather Case delivered messages about the heroic work of the responders and canine search-and-rescue teams on 9/11's somber 10-year anniversary hosted by the group Finding One Another (FOA) in a ceremony titled, "Courage Beyond Measure" in Liberty State Park here.
The event, hosted by FOA, was to honor the estimated 950 working dog teams deployed after the terrorist attacks. It was headlined by N.J. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg and followed by the Moment of Remembrance when cities, townships, firehouses and churches sounded alarms and bells for one minute as a tribute.
Carlson says, "During the 9/11 response effort, 51 members of four VMAT teams worked at the heart of Ground Zero aiding in the search-and-rescue efforts, providing more than 900 medical treatments to the search-and-rescue dogs that served at the disaster site," Carlson says. "Facing repeated exposure to biological and chemical agents that penetrated the area—not to mention the tremendous emotional strain under which all the first responders worked—members of these courageous veterinary medical teams often had to be forced to end their days after 18- or 20-hour shifts."
"They did what they do best—they took care of the animals. And, in their own way, they took care of the dog handlers—giving them the peace of mind that came with knowing the finest emergency veterinary medical services were immediately available should their dogs get sick or injured," Carlson says. "There will always be a special place in our hearts and minds for the veterinary medical teams who have served this nation for almost 20 years but never more courageously than at Ground Zero."