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Univ. of Pa. Veterinarian Studying 9/11 Aftereffects On Rescue Dogs

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - There will be a tribute this Sunday at Liberty State Park, in Jersey City, NJ -- among many others related to 9/11 -- honoring the search-and-rescue dogs of September 11th and those who supported them.

One of the participants there will be a local veterinarian who has been studying the health patterns of many of the first-responder K-9s over the years since 2001.

(Dr. Cynthia Otto. Credit: U of P)

Dr. Cynthia Otto  (right) is an associate professor at the University Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine who created the "Working Dog Center" at Penn Vet.  She is also a member of a FEMA search-and-rescue team.

She arrived in New York City shortly after the twin towers collapsed; her responsibilities included caring for many of the dogs involved in the search-and-rescue missions.

"(I had) that main focus of caring for ten dogs, making sure they stayed healthy, and if there were any injuries to be able to deal with them on site," she recalls.

Out of the more than 300 dogs that went to work in Washington and New York, she says, 95 have been studied over the years and surprisingly none had major health problems -- unlike the human first responders.

"The most striking things is that the dogs are really not having any respiratory problems, whereas in people that's the biggest things, you know.  We though there would have been more lung cancer in the dogs and there is not."

She says fewer than 20 of the 95 dogs studied are still alive today, but the information being gathered will be valuable in the ongoing research.

Reported by John McDevitt, KYW Newsradio 1060

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