Search and Rescue Dog in 9/11 Attacks Receives Stem Cell Treatment in Burke

Treatment should help alleviate aches and pains for "Red," a 12-year-old black Labrador retriever.

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 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. , 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."

Leslie Combemale March 19, 2012 at 10:34 PM
What a great story. Kudos to the folks involved for their kindness and generosity!
Bj March 20, 2012 at 02:47 PM
This is a great story, thank you for reporting on it. Dr. Herrity is an inspiration and we're lucky to have a vet like him in our community. He has been willing to learn new techniques and investigate alternative methods to heal our animals. This isn't an easy road to go down considering stem cell therapy and laser therapy are not only fairly new treatments but also controversial to some vets. I had read a lot about him and then had the pleasure to get to know him when our 7 yr old German Shepard tore his ACL in November. Our local vet wanted to do surgery immediately, alternative treatments were never brought up. I investigated on my own and found myself in Dr. Herrity's office for a consultation. He suggested laser treatments and VOM treatments with no surgery. Harry (our dog) was on 2 pain medications and limping so badly he couldn't put weight on his leg. He went off the meds immediately, he has no pain, he's not limping anymore and we see a steady, constant improvement! A side benefit to all this is that the laser/VOM is actually cheaper than surgery! It's been amazing to watch and learn about this advanced method and we are extremely grateful to Dr. Herrity for his compassion and skill.
Mary Ann Barton March 21, 2012 at 04:22 AM
Hi Bj, glad you enjoyed the story. That's wonderful news re your dog Harry. It's good to know we have veterinarians like Dr. Herrity in our area exploring new techniques.
elizabeth a yancey March 23, 2012 at 10:44 PM
god bless this sweet dog and owner this is a great story and thank you for sharing.


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