On Sept. 11, 2001, Genelle Guzman-McMillan was working in her office in the World Trade Center when she heard a terrible noise outside. As she raced down the stairs, she felt the building collapse around her.
Twenty-seven hours later, she would be the final living person rescued from the rubble at Ground Zero. She was not found by a human equipped with special gear. Instead, her savior was a dog.
Genelle Guzman-McMillan (in blue dress) was the last person to be pulled alive from the World Trade Center rubble in New York after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. She is pictured with husband, Roger, and daughters Kimberly, Kaydi and Kellie at their home in Long Island, N.Y., on Aug. 7, 2011.
Genelle’s story was one of several that inspired documentary producer Tanya Kelen. She decided to tell the story of some of the day’s heroes, who just so happened to have four legs and lots of fur. The special she produced, which aired Tuesday night on Animal Planet, spotlighted a number of incredible dogs, as well as the first responders, veterinarians and dog trainers who made their work possible.
There were more than 300 specially trained search-and-rescue dogs at Ground Zero in the days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They helped find survivors in the rubble and, later, found trinkets like jewelry that could be returned to victims’ families. Still more canines served as therapy dogs, helping survivors and first responders cope with their emotional trauma.