A black-and-white shepherd dog stands on a red, rusted steel support beam at Ground Zero beneath an overcast sky.

Cowboy of FEMA Utah Task Force 1 at the World Trade Center site on September 21, 2001.

Photograph by Alan Diaz, AP Photo

K-9 Courage

The newest special exhibition at the 9/11 Memorial Museum, which honors the hundreds of dogs that participated in the response to the 9/11 attacks, opens January 31, 2020.

K-9 Courage honors the hundreds of dogs that participated in the response to the 9/11 attacks. With dedication and specialized expertise, these four-legged responders made a difference with their handlers during the rescue and recovery efforts—and made a lasting impression on people around the world.

After September 11, 2001, K-9 teams searched the wreckage of the crash sites for survivors and victims, and the dogs comforted responders and the families of victims. When images of the dogs at work appeared in news coverage, they brightened 9/11’s dark aftermath.

  • A blonde dog stands on a pile of ruble at Ground Zero and barks upward while a man in a hardhat and toolbelt looks on.
  • A man in a hardhat and a dog walk along a path cleared of rubble at Ground Zero.

Left: Gus and handler Ed Apple of FEMA Tennessee Task Force 1 at the Pentagon on September 14, 2001. Photograph by Jocelyn Augustino, FEMA. Right: Ohlin and handler Alfred Frank of FEMA Washington Task Force 1 at the World Trade Center site on September 20, 2001. Photograph by Michael Rieger, FEMA.

Ten years after the attacks, photographer Charlotte Dumas remained curious about the fate of the 9/11 dogs. She located 15 of them and traveled around the United States to create portraits of the dogs in their retirement at home.

  • A golden retriever with a white muzzle sits on a patterned rug in front of a window and looks into the camera.
  • A black dog with a white muzzle stands on a barren and overcast landscape and looks into the camera.

Left: Bretagne in Cypress, Texas, 2011. Bretagne responded to the World Trade Center site in 2001. Photograph by Charlotte Dumas, Courtesy Andriesse Eyck Gallery, Amsterdam. Right: Merlyn in Otis, Colorado, 2011. Merlyn responded to the World Trade Center site in 2001. Photograph by Charlotte Dumas, Courtesy Andriesse Eyck Gallery, Amsterdam.

This exhibition combines photographs of the dogs during their service with Dumas’s portraits of them later in life. It also includes artifacts that tell stories of working dogs and disaster response veterinary teams.

Almost two decades after dogs responded to the 9/11 attacks, and one decade after Charlotte Dumas revisited some of them in her project, K-9 Courage welcomes the dogs back to the World Trade Center site for this well-deserved tribute.