Comprised of veterinary researchers and psychologists, the team will focus on the physical and psychological toll, possibly sounding an early alert on ailments to watch for among those who have toiled to clear the wreckage.
"Few dogs at the World Trade Center and Pentagon suffered acute injuries, but during the next three years we expect them to serve as our sentinels on long-term consequences," said lead researcher Cynthia M. Otto, associate professor of critical care in Penns School of Veterinary Medicine. "We may see health effects that will follow in humans 10 or 20 years from now."
Because the canine teams put in an average seven to 10 days at sites thick with potentially carcinogenic chemicals, Ottos team will pay particular attention to the incidence of cancer.
"These dogs were exposed to huge amounts of known toxins and unthinkable amounts of unknown ones," Otto said.
Melissa Hunt, associate director of clinical training in Penns Department of Psychology, will lead the associated study of dog handlers. Patterns of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder among this small group of personnel, Hunt said, would likely be replicated among the thousands of others who have combed the ruins of the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
"Were very concerned that many volunteers, particularly those with no formal training in search and rescue, may have difficulty putting their experiences behind them," said Hunt, who has studied depression and anxiety disorders. "Rescuers who helped clean up after the Oklahoma City bombing have experienced unusually high rates of
Contact: Steve Bradt
University of Pennsylvania