September 11, 2015 | Posted in Rescue Dogs


Picture For Representation

Apollo and his owner Peter Davis were the first dog and handler team to arrive at the World Trade Center site after the towers collapsed following the terrorist attack on September 11th, 2001. They arrived at the site within fifteen minutes of being alerted to the tragedy. Apollo flung himself on to the task of trying to locate survivors and pointing out casualties buried under several feet of dangerously heaped debris. For several days man and animal worked up to 18 hours a day. Apollo would have to be cleaned every day in order to ensure that his body did not absorb toxins and contaminants. On one occasion, Apollo escaped serious injury from debris and fire that rained down on him. He was saved from serious burns because his coat was wet. He had just fallen into a pool of water. Apollo worked till he began to show signs of extreme exhaustion. He was then removed from the site.

Apollo, a German Shepherd was born in 1992, and was a member of the K-9 Unit of the NYPD. He had an illustrious track record and a number of firsts to his name. He was one of the first dogs to be trained specifically for search and rescue; he was a graduate of the 1994 batch of the New York Police Department Canine Specials Operations Division. He was one of the earliest canine members of the Urban Search and Rescue New York Task Force 1. He was responsible for several arrests and during the period 1994 – 2001, he was one of the top dogs with the New York Police.

Apollo was chosen to receive the PDSA Dickin Medal on behalf of all the search and rescue dogs on Ground Zero. He was presented the medal on 5th March 2002. The citation summed up the efforts of all the brave dogs in the most appropriate manner, it read “For tireless courage in the service of humanity during the search and rescue operations in New York and Washington on and after 11 September 2001.” Faithful to words of command and undaunted by the task, the dogs’ work and unstinting devotion to duty stand as a testament to those lost or injured.”

Apollo was also honored with the American Kennel Club Ace Award in 2001.

Apollo also made a trip to the Dominican Republic where he pitched in to help with search and rescue operations following a hurricane.

Apollo died in November 2006; he made the world a better and safer place for everybody while he was alive. Today, his legacy continues to inspire dog lovers to treat dogs with kindness and when possible have them trained so that they can contribute if and when the need arises.