Remembering the Canine Heroes of 9/11

Within hours of the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11th, 2001, thousands of rescue workers and first responders made their way to ground zero in an effort to help. There were doctors, firefighters, veterans, nurses, and dogs.
The dogs that joined the cause included search and rescue dogs, police K9s, therapy and comfort dogs and more. Approximately, 300 dogs were a part of the repair efforts post-attack.

Search and Rescue dogs (SAR) are animals that specialize in disaster response skills. They are trained to search and detect the scent of living humans. These dogs made it their mission to find survivors that were buried beneath the wreckage.

The last living person rescued from Ground Zero 27 hours after the collapse was found by one of these search and rescue dogs. As the days went on, rescue and recovery workers soon realized the chance of finding survivors was slim, with rescue operations turning to a recovery mission and cadaver dogs, trained to find human remains, also on the scene.

Working alongside their handlers, the four-legged heroes worked tirelessly climbing huge piles of debris while fires still smoldered.

The search for signs of life or human remains was mentally and physically taxing on the dogs, as the search dogs began to get discouraged and lose their drive to search.

Veterinarians were stationed at the site to help care for these dogs. Working 12-hour shifts on the pile, the dogs needed to have their paw pads, eyes and nose cleaned often. Cynthia Otto, director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, and Lisa Murphy, an associate professor of toxicology and director of the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System at the School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center were both on the ground supporting these dogs.

They recently sat down with the 9/11 Memorial & Museum Vice President of Collections and Oral History, Museum Programs Amy Weinstein to talk about their experiences taking care of these extraordinary canines at Ground Zero.

In addition to search and rescue dogs at ground zero, therapy dogs, like Nikie, provided comfort to the firemen and rescue workers who continued to work countless of hours on the pile. They were a ray of sunshine among the death and debris, even just for a minute. The heroism of these canines has been documented in books such as Dog Heroes of September 11th and on Animal Planet’s Hero Dogs of 9/11. In June of 2018, the last known surviving search dog of 9/11, Bretagne was laid to rest.

Despite the danger and the long days and nights that these canines put their lives on the line for us, the spirit and stories of these heroic dogs live on every year.

Remember Me Thursday

Paper Pellet Cat Litter

On August 22nd, Dorchester Paws completely ran out of cat litter in the middle of kitten season. We took to every platform that we have to ask our community to assist us by purchasing and donating paper pellet cat litter to the shelter.

Why Paper Pellet Cat Litter?

We specifically use paper pellet cat litter rather than traditional clumping litter, as they help prevent upper respiratory infections in cats.
Because of the high level of absorbancy, paper pellet cat litter doesn’t break apart or cake to the bottom of litter pans when wet. It creates a healthier environment for individual cats using the litter box, as leftover waste is minimized, cleaning is easier and more effective, and there’s minimal dust. This helps prevent upper respiratory infections at home and in the shelter.
Specifically, in the shelter environment, it minimizes dust or airborne germs in the cat spaces, it’s safer for kittens, and allows for deeper and more effective cleanings during daily cleanings, in between kennels and between the cats in the kennels.

How Can You Help?

The easiest way to help the Dorchester Paws mission is through donating. Whether monetary, goods or services, Dorchester Paws can always use your help.

Right now, while we’re in need of paper pellet cat litter, there are multiple ways to help.
Through bringing paper pellet cat litter to the shelter at 136 Four Paws Lane in Summerville, you’re providing immediate relief and we have a 24-hour donation shed, right outside of the shelter gates to encourage social distancing.
Supporting our Amazon wishlist gives you an idea of the variety of goods that are needed on a daily basis.
Donating to our General Fund here helps us when our staff has to go purchase cat litter on our own.

How Can You Help If You Can’t Stop By?

Dorchester Paws has an Amazon Wishlist where we share our top needs, updating them every week. See that here. When you shop our Amazon Wishlist, you’re able to support us immediately and take an immediate role in the Dorchester Paws mission.
However, with Paper Pellet Cat Litter, this is a reoccurring need and would be perfect to set up a reoccurring shipment through Amazon. By committing to a reoccurring shipment, you take an active role in our mission and allow the shelter staff to focus on what matters; caring for animals.

Custom Kitten Creations!

NEED: We need Foamers!

Coffee with Cats | Episode 1

Join our Director of Shelter Operations April and Kennel Tech Jimmie for a conversation about the different personalities that cats have!
See if you can remember the personalities of Rakan, Stevie, Finn and Purrita!


Join the Dorchester Paws Family!

Dorchester Paws is currently hiring!


We’re looking to expand our team and you’re the person we’re looking for.

Currently hiring an Adoption Counselor and a Kennel Technician, read below to get a glimpse of the descriptions and email our Director of Shelter Operations to apply.


Adoption Counselor: The Adoption Counselor position is an integral part of our mission by promoting the humane treatment of companion animals through protection, placement, education and example. This position is a vital part of our Shelter.  Adoption Counselor’s must be self-motivated, team players, dependable, able to multi-task, and enjoy caring for animals! The Adoption Counselor works hands-on with resident animals and with customers that visit Dorchester Paws.

Kennel Technician: The Kennel Technician position is an integral part of our mission by promoting the humane treatment of companion animals through protection, placement, education and example. This position is a vital part of our Shelter.  Kennel Technicians must be self-motivated, team players, dependable, able to multi-task, and enjoy caring for animals! The Kennel Technician is responsible for the general care and maintenance of all animals at Dorchester Paws.

Why Do Dogs Wag Their Tails?

Are you spending more time at home with your dog these days? One may wonder why dogs wag their tails. Well, when people see a dog wagging it’s tail, they most likely associate that with a happy dog. However, that is not always the case! Dogs tails can actually tell us a lot about  the dogs emotions.

Since dogs cannot speak to us they use their tails to communicate to us. This is the way they let us know how they are feeling!

Some of their tail movements is generally the same across all the breeds. Those movements are:

  • A tail lowered and between the legs could mean fear, anxiety or submission
  • A slow wag could mean feeling insecure about a situation
  • A tail held up higher than normal could mean that something caught their interest and he/she is alert
  • A tail wagging energetically from side to side, can be a friendly greeting (especially when it is paired with a few licks!)


They tail is a great indicators in their moods and emotions however it is important to also pay attention to their body language as well. One can almost compare a dogs tail to a personal smile. It can show emotion but might not mean what you think! Knowing these simple cues mentioned above can help you communicate with your pup better. Next time you’re hanging out with your dog, check out what their tail is doing!


Information from this articles came from:

NEED: Microchip Scanner from HomeAgain

Animal Safety | Security Cameras

There is no doubt that dogs become part of a family. They keep their owners busy and active, reduce stress, provide a sense of purpose, promote happiness, and even have the ability to improve owners’ social lives. Dogs are, of course, a huge responsibility and therefore all owners need to cater to their needs and well-being, which includes keeping them safe.

It’s fun (and even cute) to watch dogs play and run around, but it is important to pay attention to what the dogs like to get into, especially when they are young and very curious about everything. Of course, obvious mistakes like leaving certain human food out on the table where a dog can access it can be dangerous to him or her, but there are many other unobvious things our furry friends might be interested in, such as pesticides, houseplants, and nails.

Ultimately, it is important to pet-proof your home, including the outdoors, to protect your dog and avoid any emergency veterinarian runs. Below are some key ways you can ensure your dog is safe.


Thanks to Ruby, Sarah and Evan, we wanted to share this interesting article about the benefit of security animals in keeping your pets safe.