Superheroes are those men and women of the movie world that swoop in and save the day. We have everyday hero’s that help to save and rescue people during times of disaster, pandemic, or everyday life accidents. But let’s not forget those 4-legged hero’s that are trained to assist in these times of need.
The United States recently mourned the passing of the last 9/11 Ground Zero search dog. Bretagne was one of 300 search and rescue trained dogs to sniff out survivors of the World Trade Center. Bretagne was just shy of celebrating her 17th birthday when she passed. She was not alone at the time as her longtime handler and best friend was by her side. Bretagne not only searched for survivors at the World Trade Center but also assisted in natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ivan, and Hurricane Rita. She retired at the tender age of 9 but was still active in her retirement. She traded in her search and rescue vest for a comfortable bed at an elementary school close to her home. She spent years of her retirement as a volunteer reading assistance dog at that school. Bretagne was a hero to both those people that she was involved in finding and the children’s lives that she touched. We celebrate the life of a dog that gave everything to help those in need.
Recently there has been another dog in the news that deserves to be celebrated. Patron, the bomb sniffing dog, from the Ukraine. He has assisting in neutralizing hundreds of active explosives. Patron recently received a metal from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in recognition of service to the country. Patron has been credited with detecting more than 200 undetonated explosives since the beginning of the war in February. Patron did not start out as a bomb sniffing dog. He was professionally trained by cynologists (people who train dogs) to show how dogs can be trained to perform specific tasks. His training changed at the start of the war to learning how to sniff out mines. Patron is now an international symbol of patriotism. He is truly a special 4-legged hero.
Let’s not forget those furry hero’s that are not trained to perform a specific heroic act. Those purrfect family members that have used their natural instincts to save the lives of their humans. We read about them in the news all the time. Dogs that have alerted their humans to a house fire, cats that have alerted their owners to low blood sugar, birds alerting their caretakers to intruders, the list goes on and on. Many of these pets were adopted from shelters or rescues. So not only are the furry family members heroes but so are their owners for saving an animal’s life.
You can be a hero as well. Donate to your local humane society and help a potential 4-legged hero.
Katie Share is an Animal Control Officer for Flagler Animal Services that work through the Flagler Humane Society and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Flagler Humane Society is a 501(c)(3) not-for- profit organization founded in 1980. For more information go to www.flaglerhumanesociety.org