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Honoring the Hero Guide Dogs of September 11th

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It’s estimated that around 300 dogs took part in search and rescue efforts at Ground Zero in the wake of 9/11. On the 20th Anniversary, we are remembering a few of those dogs. Here are the stories of two guide dogs who just happened to be there on that fateful day: Salty and Roselle.⁠⠀

Salty, a yellow lab, was born in 1996 and trained by Guiding Eyes for the Blind. Part of his guide dog training included trips on the subway and getting used to traffic in the Bronx. His owner was Omar Rivera, who worked for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as a senior systems designer. ⁠⠀⁠⠀

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Salty and Rivera were in their office at the World Trade Center on the 71st floor of Tower One. Salty was sitting beside Rivera’s desk when they heard a loud boom and the building began to sway. Rivera grabbed Salty’s lead, and Salty navigated him around people and debris and down the crowded stairwell. ⁠⠀⁠⠀

About halfway down, a co-worker, trying to help, tried to take Salty’s leash but the dog refused to leave Mr. Rivera, and instead lead him to safety. ⁠⠀⁠⠀

Similar to Salty, Roselle, another guide dog, was with her owner, Michael Hingson, asleep under his desk, when the attack commenced. They were on the 78th floor of Tower One when the hijacked airplane crashed into the tower, 18 floors above.⁠⠀⁠⠀

Hingson called his wife, Karen, and then made sure his staff evacuated. Then, he and Roselle began the 78-flight descent of stairs while the building swayed.⁠⠀⁠

Hingson later said, “While everyone ran in panic, Roselle remained totally focused on her job, while debris fell around us, and even hit us, Roselle stayed calm.”⁠⠀⁠⠀

Roselle lead Hingson through smoke, debris and fleeing workers, until they reached a subway entrance, where they helped another woman who had been blinded by falling debris.⁠⠀⁠⠀

In the aftermath of the attacks, both Salty and Roselle were awarded Dickin Medals for “remaining loyally at the side of their blind owners, courageously leading them down more than 70 floors of the World Trade Center and to a place of safety following the terrorist attack on New York on 11 September 2001.”⁠⠀⁠⠀

Salty passed away in 2008 at the age of 11. Roselle followed in 2011 at the age of 13.

Dog and Handler on Rubble Pile.

If you liked this article about the hero guide dogs of 9/11, read all about the history of the Queen and Her Corgis for more fun facts!

About the Author:

Candy Pilar Godoy has visited over 40 countries across six continents, and speaks three languages. She often travels with her dogs, and writes about pet travel on her blog boogiethepug.com. Candy currently lives in New York City with her two dogs, Boogie and Marcelo, and cat Kitty. She has been featured in the NY Times, Nomadic Matt, and on Buzzfeed.