September 11, 2015 | Posted in Rescue Dogs


Picture For Representation Only

Trakr was one of the many dogs that were used to locate survivors and casualties from under the debris of collapsed World Trade Center buildings on September 11, 2001.

But unlike the police dogs that were pressed into duty; Trakr and his pet parent Canadian police officer James Symington volunteered. They drove for 15 hours from Nova Scotia to Manhattan and arrived on the morning of the 12th. Trakr immediately got on the job and before 7 am, he had sniffed out a survivor. Her name was Genelle Guzman and she was the last survivor to be rescued from the rubble. Trakr put his life on the line searching for survivors amidst loose and shifting rubble. He located many victims. Trakr suffered burns; he inhaled chemical fumes and smoke. By the 14th of September, Trakr was unable to move, he was physically spent. Trakr was treated with IV fluids and the next day traveled back to Canada.

So who exactly was this canine hero who unselfishly put his life on the line for the victims of 9/11. Trackr was a German Shepherd born in far off Czech Republic, probably in 1994. He joined the Halifax Regional Police in 1995 where he was employed for six years in the capacity of a K9 search and rescue dog.  During the period, Trakr helped in the seizure of contraband worth millions of dollars and also aided in the arrest of hundreds of criminals.

As with all canine heroes whose acts of loyalty and selfless courage continue to serve as beacons for all humanity, Trakr too had a loving and understanding pet parent who fought to save his life and put his job on the line for it. James Symington, who is one of the founders of the K9 force of his city’s department, fiercely opposed a move that would have led to the euthanizing of all retired K9 dogs. Trackr was forced into premature retirement and Symington left facing an uncertain future.

Trakr was the subject of numerous newspaper articles and even books such as In the Line of Duty. He was awarded the Extraordinary Service to Humanity Award by Dr. Jane Goodall, United Nations “Messenger of Peace,” In 2008, Trakr won the title of the world’s “Most Cloneworthy Dog” courtesy a moving essay that Symington wrote; it was selected as the best piece from around 200 other entries. Five cloned pups of Trackr were handed over to Symington in June, 2009. They are Trustt, Solace, Valor, Prodigy, and Déjà vu; each an exact copy of Trackr.

Trackr spent the later years of his life in Los Angeles, California to where Symington relocated after leaving the police force.

Trackr died in April, 2009, aged fourteen. For the last two years of his life the brave warrior suffered from degenerative myelopathy. He gradually lost the use of his hind legs. Vets suspect that the debilitating condition may have been caused by the smoke and chemical fumes that the animal inhaled during the rescue operation post 9/11.