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If you find yourself tiring of watching poll results trickle in, here’s a worthy distraction: Animal Planet will premiere a one-hour documentary on 9/11 K-9 Disaster Relief units. Hero Dogs of 9/11 goes on tonight at 8 p.m. The special will tell the story of handler Frank Shane, a man with 30 years’ experience handling working dogs, and his canine partner Nikie, the only dog permitted on the 16-acre Ground Zero site after the towers came down.
But more than that, the story is about the role dogs had in caring for the living left in the wake of catastrope. Nikie was not a search-and-rescue animal; he was there to help the responders.
“He was the live teddy bear that would get people to come over and help me help them,” Shane tells Runnin’ Scared. “Nikie became part of the fabric. People accepted me and my work without me having to say what that work was,” citing his expertise in traumatic stress.
Shane and Nikie’s work birthed the K-9 Disaster Relief foundation, a New Jersey-based non-profit that provides working dogs and handlers to scenes of distasters. “K-9 Disaster Relief was formed in 2001 because we just needed a structure to work under that identified what we were doing,” says Shane.
Since then, the organization has grown to provide a wide range of disaster relief services, including doing more on-site intervention.
One of their latest deployments was to Newtown, Connecticut, to provide comfort to the children who survived the shooting rampage. Shane brought along Chance. It was his first mission.