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Searching for survivors, remembering 9/11

Friday marks the 14 year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Americans were rocked by the tragedy.

However, that day brought out a sense of patriotism in many Americans across the country to answer the call to volunteer.

Some of those volunteers were with the Michiana Search Dogs, a group from Michiana. Gary Hay is a K-9 handler and director of the group. He said he remembers the moment of impact vividly.

“I went to 911 with my dog Freddie. We got deployed on the 11th at 11:00,” Hay said.

His group got to Ground Zero on the 12th and began to work that evening, looking through rubble for any signs of life.

“Unfortunately there wasn’t anyone to find. We went into recovery mode,” he added.

They worked for eight days at Ground Zero.

“It was very somber. Everything was covered in dust, it was all shades of gray. You were there to help. I mean the tragedy had already happened so now it was time to help so we did what we could,” said Hay.

Christine Schaubert also works with Michiana Search Dogs. She said 9/11 is a big reason she decided to volunteer.

“Having lost my dad when I was 13 years old, the thought occurred to me how much it would mean to me if someone was willing to go find my loved one and either bring closure to a loss or help save a life,” Schaubert said.

She recalls that day 14 years ago very clearly.

“I remember that day very vividly. I was 20 years old and getting ready to head out to my cousin’s farm in Nebraska to help bring in the harvest,” she added.

In case of a local disaster, the Michiana Search Dog team would be one of the first on the scene. They assist with various search and rescue efforts as needed, even nationally as in 9/11.

Training for the dogs is extensive and can take anywhere from a few months to a year. Dogs must be at least 18 months old to get certified.

Schaubert has been in training with her dog Trustee for a couple months and is working towards him becoming a search and rescue dog.

It is the memories and calling to help that serves as inspiration in their work.

“Serving locally is what it’s all about. If there were a disaster, our dogs would be the first dogs there,” said Hay.

“At the end of the day, we all know deep down inside that what we are doing could ultimately save a life or help a loved one that has experienced a great loss,” Schaubert said.

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