Oral History Collection Expands, Includes Veterinarians’ Contributions to 9/11 Recovery Efforts

Cynthia Otto, who provided veterinary assistance to canine search teams at Ground Zero, poses with rescue and recovery workers and four canines.
Cynthia Otto (center) provided veterinary assistance at ground zero for canine search teams. Photo courtesy of Penn Vet Working Dog Center.

Canine recovery workers searched tirelessly in the aftermath of 9/11 to recover victims’ remains. Veterinarians, in turn, cared for the rescue dogs and one of those vets was inspired to create a center dedicated to the study and care of the detection dogs The Penn Vet Working Dog Center.

Katherine Baillie with the PennCurrent, a publication of the University of Pennsylvania, recently wrote about the center, the rescue dogs and the Museum’s oral history collection, which will expand to include the stories. The Museum’s director of collections and senior oral historian Amy Weinstein, travelled to the center in Philadelphia to record the stories of the veterinarians and handlers who cared for the rescue and recovery dogs and the impact it had on them.

Cynthia Otto (center) provided veterinary assistance at Ground Zero for canine search teams. Photo courtesy of Penn Vet Working Dog Center.Cynthia Otto, director of the center said the 9/11 rescue and recovery efforts forever changed how the world saw detection dogs:

“It was life-changing,” Otto says. “To me, it was the first time that search and rescue dogs made center stage and that people recognized the value and impact that these dogs were having.”

Weinstein also spoke with Lisa Murphy, director of the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System, who appreciated the center as “something positive that came from that day.”

“With my visit to the working dog center I have now had the privilege of speaking with the search-and-rescue dog handlers as well as the professionals who cared for them at ground zero,” said Weinstein of the visit. “The museum’s collection of oral histories recorded with first responders is enriched by the voices of Dr. Murphy, Dr. Otto and their colleagues.”

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

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