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Oct. 22, 2013

A dog's life: reflecting on the work of a canine hero

Kaiser, a heroic search and rescue dog who served the people of New York following 9/11, died Oct. 18.

The German shepherd was a certified FEMA rescue dog who was diagnosed with oral tumors earlier this year.

Kaiser had been receiving treatment at the MSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital. MSU oncologists extended and improved the quality of his life through radiation treatment.

Kaiser went to Ground Zero for his first mission. At 15 years old, he was one of the few remaining “9/11 dogs.” He worked 12-hour shifts for 10 days after the planes struck the World Trade Center.

Kaiser also was sent on search and rescue missions during numerous natural disasters including hurricanes Katrina, Gustav and Ike. He was retired at 12 years old, much older than the average dog’s retirement age.

“The bond you form with a dog when you do the type of work we did is extraordinarily close,” said Tony Zintsmaster, Kaiser’s handler. “The level of trust they have in you is amazing. Kaiser was a very affectionate dog—he loved people.”