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Grad Treats NYC Rescue Dogs

Grad Treats NYC Rescue DogsPart of an elite team of emergency veterinarians, Siri Dayton was one of the first doctors at the World Trade Center scene to treat search and rescue dogs. New York City.

No. Grafton, Mass. [10.01.01] Siri Dayton arrived at ground zero just two days after the World Trade Center attacks and immediately went to work. The graduate of Tufts' School of Veterinary Medicine is a member of an elite team of emergency doctors -- one of just four in the country -- called to New York to treat the hundreds of search and rescue dogs injured while they combed for survivors amid the rubble of the World Trade Center towers.

Over 300 dogs are on scene, and many are suffering from lacerations, broken claws, cuts, scrapes, dehydration and emotional stress.

"Dayton went to the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center last week knowing she would face some severe cases of injured rescue dogs," reported The Boston Globe on Sunday.

The work is long and hard (the veterinarian teams work in 12-hours shifts), but the Globe reports that the Tufts graduate is well suited for the New York City assignment.

"Dayton has the skills, stomach and heart for the work," reported the newspaper. She also has the desire.

"I've had this desire to do some sort of humanitarian aid, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to volunteer my time," Dayton told the Globe. "I was a very high-end emergency doctor at Angell Memorial Hospital and this is a way of making use of the kind of skills that I have."

With her emergency room experience and highly trained veterinary skills, the Tufts graduate plays an important role on the elite New England Veterinary Medical Assistance Team, which is called to action during presidentially declared disasters. Dayton isn't the only Tufts-trained doctor on the team -- she's joined by 1992 Tufts graduate Deborah Campbell.

In the case of the New York City attacks, Dayton's experience treating small animals was essential.

"We were the closest in proximity and the most appropriate in terms of talent," she told the Globe. "We happen to have small animal veterinarians on the team, which is very different than some of the other teams that have some large-animals vets. They need someone who can go in and take a valuable dog and stabilize it. That's what I do."

Many of the dogs are dehydrated and need to be treated quickly so they can return to the site for their next shift. Others need to be treated for leg and foot injuries, which happen when the dogs slip on the rubble.

But not all of the dogs' injuries will be easy to diagnose on site.

Dayton told the Globe that many of the search and rescue dogs might experience long-term health problems from their work at the disaster site.

"You can't put a respirator on a dog," she told the Globe. "So I imagine there are going to be some severe health problems for these dogs down the line."

And doctors may never know about the emotional impact on the search and rescue dogs, which have had little luck finding survivors amid the rubble.

"They very clearly know death," Dayton told the Globe. "Animals' reactions to seeing people die is something we couldn't possibly understand, but it's a very powerful thing. It's really taxing for them."

Photos courtesy AFP.

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