A decade ago, "Red," a black Labrador search and rescue dog, was deployed in the 9/11 attacks at the Pentagon in Arlington.
Many of the hundreds of search and rescue dogs sent to the Pentagon, World Trade Center in New York City and Shanksville, Pa., have since passed away.
On Monday, Red, who is now 12 years old, received a breakthrough stem cell regenerative treatment from Dr. John Herrity, D.V.M., at the Burke Animal Clinic to help ease crippling arthritis and live out her days in greater comfort.
Red was sent to the Pentagon on Sept. 16, 2001, with her owner and handler, Heather Roche of Annapolis, Md. They worked at the site for 11 days, finding remains of victims in the Pentagon's north parking-lot area. Red later helped in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
No longer able to handle tasks like climbing a two-story ladder, Red retired in July 2011. “She still wants to work, but her body just can’t do it anymore,” Roche said.
"This dog gave a lot to us," Herrity said Monday afternoon after performing the treatment on Red. "They do searches for remains in burned out buildings. It's the least we can do for these guys."
Procedure Lets Old Dogs Run, Play Again
The two-part procedure takes a little over an hour and normally costs $2,000 to $2,400. Two other 9/11 dogs that recently received the same stem cell therapy are able to run, climb and play again. The treatment mainly helps larger breed dogs ages 9 and older with hip and arthritis problems.
Herrity has experience with more than two-dozen stem cell operations. MediVet-America, which developed the in-clinic stem cell technology, donated the cost of the procedure and cryogenic banking of additional stem cells.
Veterinarians and researchers describe stem cell regenerative therapy as a major scientific development in the treatment of arthritis, hip dysplasia, ligament and cartilage injuries and other degenerative joint diseases in dogs, cats, horses and other animals. The technology uses an adult animals' own stem cells to heal itself.
MediVet-America’s treatment involves removing fat tissue from the animal, separating the stem cells from the fat, activating and injecting the cells into the affected areas. Within four to six weeks, animals who were in severe pain with a restricted range of motion are able to walk, run and even jump again. Key to the procedure is an advanced, patented L.E.D. technology that activates millions of dormant stem cells present in fat tissue.
MediVet donated the test kit system for Red's procedure on Monday.
Two other Sept. 11 search and rescue dogs also have been treated with stem cell therapy and are doing well, according to MediVet. Bailey, a 15 year-old black Lab, underwent the procedure in November. Hoke, a 14 year-old yellow Lab, was treated in December. Both are doing well, according to their handlers, and have resumed normal activity in retirement.
“We are proud to help the unsung canine heroes of 9/11 more than a decade after the attacks,” said MediVet-America CEO Jeremy Delk. “They deserve the very best stem cell therapeutic care that is now being received by animals across the nation.”
Herrity said the recovery process takes about two to three months. "Our society today wants everything done yesterday," he said. "But that's not how the body works."