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Helping the Helpers

Just a few hours after the World Trade Center was reduced to rubble on Sept. 11, volunteer rescue worker Sarah Atlas and her search-and-rescue dog Anna, a German shepherd, began sifting through the debris to find survivors. They worked there for 10 days.

But when their work was done, it was Ms. Atlas and Anna who needed help. And more than 600 Haddonfield, N.J., schoolchildren answered the call.

Pamela Probst, a physical education teacher at Haddonfield Central Middle School, had heard that two rescuers from the area had gone to Ground Zero in New York City, and she wanted to honor them at a school event. She had no idea one of those rescuers was a dog.

But when Ms. Atlas arrived at the school with Anna, the story of the dog's heroism captured everyone's heart.

Anna had worked many grueling hours crawling into holes and climbing over steel beams in her search for survivors. On the first day, she emerged from the chaos with first-degree burns on her belly and several welts known as "hot spots."

The dog's injuries healed, but two weeks after the tragedy, Anna was diagnosed with discospondylitis, a bacterial infection that settled in her spine.

So, at 4 years old, Anna had to be retired from search-and-rescue work. And that was a huge loss for the New Jersey Task Force One search-and-rescue team, a group for which Ms. Atlas volunteers.

To fill the void, students and teachers from all three Haddonfield elementary schools joined forces and organized a fund-raising walk.

The event raised the $5,000 needed to buy and train a new search-and- rescue dog, and Ms. Atlas is in the process of looking for one.

—Marianne Hurst

Vol. 21, Issue 22, Page 3

Published in Print: February 13, 2002, as Take Note

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