“Retrieved” – Remembering the K-9 Hero’s of 9/11

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Sep
11
2011

Retrieved – by Charlotte Dumas

 

Charlotte Dumas is an animal photographer who specialized in capturing the relationships and emotional ties between animals and people.  Her work is moving and filled with passion and intimacy – to put it mildly.  “Four Horses” was her first published work in which she captured the spirit of police horses.  Subsequently she published “Day Is Done” and “Palermo 7” – both focusing on horses.  “Reverie” took her to Norway to capture the enigmatic character of wolves in 2007, while “Tiger Tiger” brought her stateside to photograph tigers in sanctuaries and zoos.

Her last three projects have all been focused on the amazing heart and soul of our beloved K-9 companions.  In “Heart Shaped Hole” as well as “Heart of a Dog” she captured strays in the cities of Palermo and New York.  Her photos are breathtaking and truly let you look deep into the soul of her subjects.  While all  of her works are moving and tug at your heart strings – her newest work will truly reach to your inner core.

“Retrieved” focuses on the last remaining dogs who worked selflessly and tirelessly to find survivors in the 9/11 remains.  While there were hundreds of K-9’s dispatched, these 15 dogs are still with us living out their days in retirement.  Dumas wrote this past summer on how Retrieved, the series,  came about:

“On and after September 11, 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) deployed close to a hundred search dogs along with their handlers—from a network of 26 active task forces from 18 different states—to both the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. In the aftermath of the attacks the dogs searched day and night for survivors, making sure no one would be stranded in the rubble, while rescue workers and firemen slowly made their way through the chaos and debris.

In my memory, the photographs of these dogs that appeared in the newspapers stayed with me most strongly: a dog being transported in a stokes basket on cables suspended high over the wreckage; another dog intently searching while maneuvering over enormous bend beams; dogs receiving eye drops after and in between shifts.

I can still recall these images clearly. The dogs searched and comforted, they gave consolation to anyone involved. Seeing these pictures, I was also comforted. They somehow emanated a spark of hope amidst this scene of destruction.

I long wondered what had become of these animals. How many of them would still be alive today, so many years after 9/11? Through FEMA, I was able to locate 15 of the dogs that took part in the rescue operations. I visited them and portrayed them in their homes, where they all still live with their handlers across the U.S.

These animals were all at the same place at the same time, one decade ago, for the same reason: to work. That experience unites them, and was the incentive for me to pursue this subject and to photograph the dogs. They now share the vulnerability of old age while symbolizing a full decade coming to a close.”

 

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