Not all heroes are people; some are dogs. Yet, not even all dog heroes play a role in history. But Trackr did. As one of the first K-9 search and rescue teams to arrive at Ground Zero on 9/11, with his owner James Symington, Trackr defied horrific conditions to search for trapped survivors. Twenty-seven hours later, the dog hero played a part in the rescue of the last surviving human of 9/11. She was found under thirty feet of dangerously unstable rubble and debris.
That amazing survivor, Genelle McMillan, does not remember the firefighters who first heard her voice, Trackr, or his owner. She only remembers praying over and over, and a man named Paul who held her hand in his two hands, telling her she would be fine. He did not wear firefighter gloves and no one else saw or knew him. Genelle believes he was an angel. An angel who alerted a German Shepherd? Perhaps.
By 2008, Trackr the dog hero was age 15 years old and suffering from a degenerative neurological disorder. The brain disorder caused impairment to his back legs, rendering them useless. Experts say the the impairment could be linked to toxic smoke the dog hero was exposed to at Ground Zero. Trackr died at age 16.
Scientists now say they have successfully cloned Trackr, producing five puppies who are his genetic copies. Trackr was chosen as “cloneworthy” as a result of a winning essay written by Symington, a retired cop from Canada who now lives in Los Angeles.
To read stories about other dog heroes who hunted and found victims of the World Trade Center terror attacks, read Dog Heroes of September 11: A Tribute to America’s Search and Rescue Dogs, by award-winning author Nona Kilgore Bauer. It is a chronicle of 78 search and rescue (SAR) teams that responded in America’s time of need. Partial proceeds of the book sales go to the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (NDSDF).