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Retrieved...Dogs of 9/11

Date: 2011-09-20
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Immediately following the attacks of 9/11, nearly 100 trained search dogs and their handlers—enlisted from 18 U.S. states—were deployed by FEMA to join the rescue efforts at the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

Alongside firemen and other teams sorting through the debris, the dogs worked tirelessly around the clock to locate survivors in the rubble—images of which deeply intrigued Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas as the events unfolded in the news media.

One decade later, discovering that only 15 of these dogs were still alive, Dumas succeeded in tracking each of them down, visiting and photographing the dogs at their homes throughout the U.S., where they all still live with their handlers.

Composed at close range in natural light, Dumas’ powerful portraits—reproduced here in a thoughtfully designed paperback volume with Japanese binding—offer an intimate view into the everyday lives of these highly specialized working animals, now sharing the vulnerability of old age as they once pursued a common heroic goal.

Noted for her touching portraits of animals, Dumas wanted Retrieved to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also serve as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs.  “I felt this was a turning point, especially for the dogs, who although are not forgotten, are not as prominent as the human stories involved,” she said. “They speak to us as a different species, and animals are greatly important for our sense of empathy and to put things into perspective.”

Dumas contacted the New York Fire Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and discovered that out of nearly 100 dogs who were among the first responders, only 15 were still alive last year. 

“They are all retired and I spent time with each of their handlers learning about their experiences,” Dumas said. “The dogs are now old and they will soon pass away … These portraits are about how time passes, and how these dogs and their portraits are offering us a way to deal with the things that happened as well as relying on them for comfort.”

Since 2002, Charlotte Dumas has worked exclusively on photographic projects exploring the ways in which we use, define and relate to animals. Her previous works include Al Lavoro! (2011), Repose (2010), Paradis (2009), Heart Shaped Hole (2008), Reverie (2006), and Day is Done (2005).

For more information, see http://www.theiceplant.cc/retrieved.html

See a slideshow of sample photos at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/08/14/magazine/14Mag-rescue-dogs.html#1


- People, Places & Things/9-1-1magazine.com (via The Ice Plant and ohmidog.com, 9/11/11).

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