A hallway with framed photographs of rescue dogs stretches through the frame. "K-9 Courage," the title of the exhibition, appears above the wall of photographs.
Photo by Jin S. Lee

K-9 Courage

K-9 Courage, a temporary exhibition in the Museum’s South Tower Gallery, honors the hundreds of dogs that participated in the response to the 9/11 attacks.

On view until summer 2021

A woman with long, light brown hair and a gray sweater stands with her back toward the camera looking at a wall of framed photographs of rescue dogs.
Photo by Jin S. Lee

About the Exhibition

K-9 Courage honors the hundreds of dogs that participated in the response to the 9/11 attacks. With dedication and specialized expertise, these four-legged responders made a difference with their handlers during the rescue and recovery efforts—and made a lasting impression on people around the world.

After September 11, 2001, K-9 teams searched the wreckage of the crash sites for survivors and victims, and they comforted responders and the families of victims. When images of the dogs at work appeared in news coverage, they brightened 9/11’s dark aftermath. 

  • A golden retriever with a white muzzle sits on a patterned rug in front of a window and looks into the camera.
  • A black dog with a white muzzle stands on a barren and overcast landscape and looks into the camera.

Left: Bretagne in Cypress, Texas, 2011. Bretagne responded to the World Trade Center site in 2001. Photograph by Charlotte Dumas, Courtesy Andriesse Eyck Gallery, Amsterdam. Right: Merlyn in Otis, Colorado, 2011. Merlyn responded to the World Trade Center site in 2001. Photograph by Charlotte Dumas, Courtesy Andriesse Eyck Gallery, Amsterdam.

Ten years after the attacks, photographer Charlotte Dumas remained curious about the fate of the 9/11 dogs. She located 15 of them and traveled around the United States to make portraits of the dogs in their retirement at home.

This exhibition combines photographs of the dogs during their service with Dumas’s portraits of them later in life. It also includes artifacts that tell stories of working dogs and disaster response veterinary teams.

Almost two decades after dogs responded to the 9/11 attacks, and one decade after Charlotte Dumas revisited some of them in her project, K-9 Courage pays tribute to the canine responders that were ready when the country needed them.

A man in a hardhat and a dog walk along a path cleared of rubble at Ground Zero.
Photo by Michael Rieger, FEMA

Ohlin and handler Alfred Frank of FEMA Washington Task Force 1 at the World Trade Center site on September 20, 2001.

Audio Tour

K-9 Courage is accompanied by an audio tour that features interviews with Dr. Cynthia Otto, Executive Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Vet Working Dog Center, and Pat Kaynaroglu, the Center’s Training Manager. The tour explores dogs’ aptitude for search and rescue work and the training that develops their expertise.

Listen to a clip from the audio tour below, or read the transcript.

Related Events

A yellow Labrador retriever licks the face of a man kneeling who wears an FDNY jacket and work boots.
Photo by Andrea Booher, FEMA

K-9 Courage Family Day

This family-friendly K-9 festival celebrated the opening of this special exhibition. The multi-hour, drop-in event featured tours of the exhibition, dog-themed crafts and activities for families, special film screenings, and working dog demonstrations.

A man in military fatigues kneels next to a shepherd dog in front of a green hedge.
Photo courtesy United States Navy

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