Animal Planet: "Hero Dogs of 9/11"by Contact: info@K-9DisasterRelief.org on 08/24/11
Animal Planet will air a documentary titled: "Hero Dogs of 9/11." The program will coincide with the tenth anniversary of September 11th. During the search and recovery efforts on Ground Zero for nine months, K-9 Disaster Relief was the only credentialed organization with full access to provide Canine Disaster Relief Services. "Nikie" a 120-pount golden retriever worked side-by-side with his handler, Frank Shane, who is the Executive Director of K-9 Disaster Relief.
Hero Dogs of 9/11 is a one hour documentary produced by Dog Files, Starlight Runner Entertainment and kelencontent. Produced out of Canada, it is scheduled to be aired in September with international distribution.
The program is historic in many respects - - Frank Shane and Nikie were able to document nine months of personal and intimate contact with thousands of rescue, recovery, firefighters, police, uniformed services, volunteers and the men and women who not only saved lives, but did in nine months what most predicted would take years to accomplish. In a post-filming interview, Shane said, “Ten years ago, Ground Zero was an apocalypse – it was “hell-on-earth,” but the dogs had jobs and just went to work. They were focused and fearless in their mission.”
Nikie passed away in April 2004. Today, all of the dogs of 9/11 have died. According to the producers of the documentary, “they leave a legacy and a story that needs to be told.” The program will highlight the noble mission of those dogs and the positive impact they had on the dog world and mankind.
Reflecting on the filming, Shane said, "coming back to Ground Zero was very emotional, especially retracing the footsteps of Nikie.” The production team wanted to include his new canine partner in training "Chance." Almost a year old, Chance is a high achieving crème retriever who excels at new challenges. In July, New York City hit record temperatures in the high 90's. There were post-filming concerns about the extreme heat, plus the health, safety and security issues of being filmed at in and around Ground Zero.
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum made special arrangements to have the first interview take place inside the Museum. Frank said, "They were so kind and accommodating - - everyone went out of their way to provide a tranquil place.” The Memorial and Museum is directly across from where the south WTC tower stood before the attacks. It collapsed in less than 10 seconds at 9:59AM. “Chance was by my feet during the filming of that segment. With his comforting presence, I was able to describe in vivid detail how Nikie was so stoic and courageous." Filming continued in and around Ground Zero the next day. It was like a miracle," Shane commented. "Temperatures and humidity dropped and it was very reminiscent the abnormally cooler days after 9/11.”
The final interviews were done in St. Paul's directly across from Ground Zero. The church had become a special respite and sanctuary for rescue and recovery workers. "It was a long and tiring day of filming - - I was looking forward to seeing the church again and taking some private time to reflect." Special permission was granted to film inside the church. Shane remembered, "On many nights we’d be tired and needed a place to rest. In the church I would rest on a pew and Nikie would snore away.”
Inside St. Paul’s, with Chance in hand, Frank walked towards the area, but instead of a pew, Nikie’s image appeared. He said, "I hadn't realized that St. Paul's was now more than a church.” Over the past ten years, St. Paul’s had become a sacred place where visitors from all over the world could see artifacts and mementos, and most of all, learn firsthand about the courage of those who risked their lives to help others in our darkest days. “I couldn't believe that I would see Nikie's image in the church.” As he stood back and watched others look at Nikie’s photograph. A stoic and courageous dog, he wore his vest, patch and American flag. The photo was taken during one of the last memorial ceremonies on Ground Zero. A soldier was saluting Nikie as a gesture of honor and gratitude.