World responds to appeal for extra help for animals being used in rescue effort following World Trade Centre tragedy

A Canadian-based company, which makes padded boots for dogs, has sent hundreds of pairs to New York to help protect the paws of the dogs being used in the mammoth rescue effort.

The boots are being sent in response to requests from the New York police, which is using hundreds of dogs to search for people in the rubble.

The work for the dogs – like the human rescuers – is dangerous. Several dogs are reported to have been injured and died after rubble fell on them.

The dogs being used in the rescue effort are highly trained animals. They work in tandem with their handlers and have to pass rigorous national certification tests at least every two years.

A spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is co-ordinating the rescue effort, said: “Good search dogs are a very rare breed. They must demonstrate their agility skills, their ability to follow commands in chaotic situations and a willingness to overcome innate fears under the guidance of the handler.”

Owner of the Canadian firm Muttluks, Marianne Bertrand, said: “This is standard protection for working dogs – they really need them urgently down there.

“Those dogs put their lives before the people they’re trying to rescue. They’re no different from police and firemen. They need protective gear too.”

The boots resemble socks but have padded soles to protect the paws and Velcro straps which fit round the ankles.

For more information visit www.fema.gov