Twelve search-and-rescue dogs involved in the recovery missions after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and Pentagon have shown no related signs of nasal or respiratory tract cancer, according to one of two studies.
The results are a preview of a five-year study organized by The Iams Company. Set to conclude in spring 2007, the study has focused on the long-term health effects in dogs from exposure to hazardous carcinogens and fine particles of soot and debris. The study's organizers looked for early warning signs of health issues, primarily cancer, in the dogs by using magnetic resonance imaging technology.
The study will benefit search-and-rescue dogs by providing the information necessary to improve management of the dogs during recovery missions and at all other times, said Dr. Dan Carey, a veterinarian with Iams, who has tracked the health of the study's participants for the past four years.
"With the study four years along now and no signs of cancer, and nothing that has shown up that has been related to the 9/11 events, we're left with a temporary conclusion that whatever is being done with these dogs currently is probably working," Dr. Carey said.
The study could also benefit humans. "While it's impossible to form concrete conclusions about human health," he said, "this study allows us to track physical changes in the dogs and may provide an early warning of problems that could show up in humans years later."
The Iams study runs concurrently with another ongoing study of search-and-rescue dogs sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation.