More than 100 K-9 dogs and their police handlers gathered Wednesday in a tribute to Sirius, the only police dog to die in the World Trade Center disaster.
As Officer David Lim went to help evacuate the trade center when it was attacked Sept. 11, he expected to return for the dog he left behind in a basement kennel.
But the towers collapsed, and Lim, a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officer, was trapped in the debris for several hours. No one was able to save the 5-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, a bomb-sniffing dog for the trade center.
During Wednesday's gathering at Liberty State Park, across the Hudson River from the World Trade Center site, officers filed by a wooden urn and a medal dedicated to Sirius. Bagpipes played and a 21-gun salute echoed. Sirius' metal bowl, recovered from the wreckage, was presented to Lim.
Lim also lost several human friends Sept. 11.
"I never wanted to put Sirius in the forefront," Lim said. "He can have this one day, I guess. He did his job well at the World Trade Center."
Flanked by his German shepherd, Kiefer, New York City Officer Chris Hanley said the officers treated Sirius just like a fellow officer.
"You have to understand, he's there to protect you," Hanley said.
The dog's remains were found in January, and were removed draped under an American flag by Port Authority officers. That flag, folded in a triangular case, was displayed at the memorial service.
The ceremony honored the "thousands of police dogs who play vital roles in battling terrorists, smugglers and other dangerous criminals," said Charles D. DeRienzo, the Port Authority's superintendent of police and director of public safety. "
Sirius had worked with Lim at the Trade Center since July 2000. The dog lived with Lim and his family.
"My kids played with him," Lim said. "We miss him a lot."
Lim has been reassigned to work as an officer at the Holland and Lincoln tunnels and has a new partner, a black Labrador retriever named Sprig.
The attack that destroyed the trade center, the one that damaged the Pentagon and the crash of a hijacked plane in Pennsylvania killed more than 3,000 people. The toll in New York included more than 400 police officers and firefighters. Thirty-seven of the officers worked for the Port Authority, which built the trade center.
Dozens of police dogs, including all 32 New York City police department dogs, have been used in the rescue and recovery effort.
By Amy Westfeldt