Golden Retriever Riley: The Real (Iconic) Hero of 9/11

New York, N.Y. (Sept. 15, 2001) -- Golden Retriever SAR dog, Riley, is transported out of the debris of the World Trade Center. The twin towers of the center were destroyed in a Sept. 11 terrorist attack. U.S. Navy Photo by Journalist 1st Class Preston Keres.

This one photo has never left my mind, heart, or soul as the images
from such a tragic day tend to be indelibly marked.

_____________________________________

The post below originally appeared on May 28, 2007, sad news from Riley’s dad, Chris Selfridge, prompting many heavy hearts. Although I never got to meet Riley, I loved him as did so many other folks who had been glued to their television sets after the attack on the twin towers.

On 2/26/10, Riley passed away. He was our family pet, my friend and partner. Riley was 13 in November. He lived a good life and taught me many lessons during his time with me. He will be greatly missed. I love you Bub!

Dog book author, Susan McCullough, has included Riley in her upcoming book on Golden Retrievers and learned more about his final days.

While Riley had aced a physical this past December, a mass was found in his abdomen on February 20. Surgery to remove the mass took place on February 24, but Riley died two days later.

Chris and I exchanged email last fall when I was writing my book about Golden Retrievers and wanted to feature Riley as a representative of the breed. At that point, Riley was still enjoying chasing Frisbees and had helped to welcome a new puppy into the family. He clearly was enjoying his retirement from SAR work.

I am so glad Riley was able to be by his family’s side for a little over 13 years. Cancer has kept me from having a Golden Retriever beyond the age of 11. These special souls live their lives so intensely, never tiring of seeing our faces or simply the joy of going for a walk or getting a treat. I don’t think we could ever appreciate life or live it as well as they do. So, while it seems like they have such short lives, I think they live far longer than we do when it comes to happiness and fulfillment.

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May 28, 2007 Post

I have a page at the foundation site on our Disaster Search and Rescue Goldens. It details a great book, Dog Heroes of September 11th: A Tribute to America’s Search and Rescue Dogs. The book details the stories of 77 handlers and their Search and Rescue dogs who responded at the World Trade Center & Pentagon following the September 11th attacks. It shows a photo of Dissaster SAR Golden, Riley.

Riley is one of the most famous dogs of Sept. 11 because of a photo taken of him at the World Trade Center site a few days after the attacks. In the photo, Riley is in a basket being sent over a 60-foot-deep canyon to search the rubble of the North Tower. “Normally when we send a dog, the handler goes with him,” said Riley’s trainer, Chris Selfridge. “This time we decided it was more practical to just send the dog.”

I also recently learned of video being available of Golden Riley through SAR worker and author extraordinaire, Susannah Charleson. She is most familiar with this apparatus on Riley as she has trained in activities with similar gear with her SAR Golden Puzzle.

It is wonderful to actually have footage of the Golden Retriever who really DID work at the World Trade Center (separating him from those preposterous claims made by Scott Shields).

Riley is now retired, and suffers from various skin problems and the like due to his time at Ground Zero.

Remembering Golden Riley: The Real (Iconic) Hero of 9/11

New York, N.Y. (Sept. 15, 2001) -- Golden Retriever SAR dog, Riley, is transported out of the debris of the World Trade Center. The twin towers of the center were destroyed in a Sept. 11 terrorist attack. U.S. Navy Photo by Journalist 1st Class Preston Keres.

This one photo has never left my mind, heart, or soul as the images
from such a tragic day tend to be indelibly marked.

_____________________________________

The following post originally appeared on May 28, 2007, but sad news that I received today from his Riley’s dad, Chris Selfridge, prompted my giving it top billing again. My heart is truly heavy today. Although I never got to meet Riley, I loved him as did so many other folks who had been glued to their television sets after the attack on the twin towers.

On 2/26/10, Riley passed away. He was our family pet, my friend and partner. Riley was 13 in November. He lived a good life and taught me many lessons during his time with me. He will be greatly missed. I love you Bub!

Dog book author, Susan McCullough, has included Riley in her upcoming book on Golden Retrievers and learned more about his final days.

While Riley had aced a physical this past December, a mass was found in his abdomen on February 20. Surgery to remove the mass took place on February 24, but Riley died two days later.

Chris and I exchanged email last fall when I was writing my book about Golden Retrievers and wanted to feature Riley as a representative of the breed. At that point, Riley was still enjoying chasing Frisbees and had helped to welcome a new puppy into the family. He clearly was enjoying his retirement from SAR work.

I am so glad Riley was able to be by his family’s side for a little over 13 years. Cancer has kept me from having a Golden Retriever beyond the age of 11. These special souls live their lives so intensely, never tiring of seeing our faces or simply the joy of going for a walk or getting a treat. I don’t think we could ever appreciate life or live it as well as they do. So, while it seems like they have such short lives, I think they live far longer than we do when it comes to happiness and fulfillment.

__________________________________________________________________________

May 28, 2007 Post

I have a page at the foundation site on our Disaster Search and Rescue Goldens. It details a great book, Dog Heroes of September 11th: A Tribute to America’s Search and Rescue Dogs. The book details the stories of 77 handlers and their Search and Rescue dogs who responded at the World Trade Center & Pentagon following the September 11th attacks. It shows a photo of Dissaster SAR Golden, Riley.

Riley is one of the most famous dogs of Sept. 11 because of a photo taken of him at the World Trade Center site a few days after the attacks. In the photo, Riley is in a basket being sent over a 60-foot-deep canyon to search the rubble of the North Tower. “Normally when we send a dog, the handler goes with him,” said Riley’s trainer, Chris Selfridge. “This time we decided it was more practical to just send the dog.”

I also recently learned of video being available of Golden Riley through SAR worker and author extraordinaire, Susannah Charleson. She is most familiar with this apparatus on Riley as she has trained in activities with similar gear with her SAR Golden Puzzle.

It is wonderful to actually have footage of the Golden Retriever who really DID work at the World Trade Center (separating him from those preposterous claims made by Scott Shields).

Riley is now retired, and suffers from various skin problems and the like due to his time at Ground Zero.

Canine PTSD

This article is a very sad commentary on the utilization of innocent dogs for quite dangerous endeavors. While I do realize the life-saving that takes place via our canine friends at times such as earthquakes or on the slopes due to avalanches, I could never engage a dog of my own in such a field.

The fun continues.

While one is locked away, the other one plays? Who can say? But, sadly their nonprofit (yea, right) Bear Search and Rescue Foundation’s website still appears online and asks for money. Go figure.

My question, who really will pay? (The taxpayers, of course. What a stupid question.)

To learn more about this saga from its beginnings, just go to TRADING IN ON TRAGEDY FOR FAME: Succumbing to the Lure of Truthiness.

And, to see the series of blog posts on this pitiful man and his sister, just click here.

Finally, a newspaper reports on this Ground Zero Liar & Felon

li.jpgSept. 11 fraud nets jail term for man
W. Windsor resident lied to obtain FEMA assistance
BY KEVIN SHEA, The Times of Trenton News, October 17, 2008

Scott Shields, the West Windsor man whose dramatic stories of rescuing victims in New York following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and in New Orleans after Hurricane Ka trina have largely been debunked, has been sentenced to eight months in federal prison for fraudulently obtaining government money.

Shields also was sentenced to three years of supervised release once he is freed from prison, and he and his sister Patricia Shields, a co- defendant in the case who received the same sentence, will also have to pay back nearly $50,000 in money they had sent to them by federal agencies in 2002.

The sentence was handed down Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The siblings had been indicted on three counts: theft of government funds, mail fraud, and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Scott Shields’ lawyer, Joel M. Stein, declined to comment yesterday on the sentencing.

Shields and his sister received $38,906 from the Federal Emer gency Management Agency and $10,553 from the American Red Cross after making false claims to the agencies in 2002 that they lived near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan.

They actually lived in Greenwich, Conn., at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and the FEMA money was meant for rental or mortgage assistance to people who lived near the World Trade Center site.

And while the Shieldses later moved to Lower Manhattan following the attacks, the Red Cross assistance money was meant for victims who lived below Canal Street at the time of the attacks.

Court papers show the Shields siblings did not move to Lower Manhattan until October 2001.

Moreover, court records show the Shieldses were evicted from their Connecticut residence for nonpayment of rent, never used any of the FEMA money for their Manhattan apartment, and that they were “entirely delinquent” in rent from the time they moved in until they were evicted from that residence as well.

Scott Shields later moved to West Windsor.

Shields, who gave himself the rank of “captain,” had wowed the media and the public with his dramatic tales of mass rescues in New Orleans in 2005, and of his heroic K-9 work with his beloved dog Bear after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Some of the stories appeared in The Times.

The stories about Bear, who Shields said died in 2003 due to 9/11 injuries, led to the creation of a charitable foundation in the dog’s name and a book about his ex ploits as well. But the accounts eventually were called into question by many authorities and animal rescue specialists.

For example, Shields had claimed he and Bear found the most victims during the rescue efforts following 9/11.

But in 2007, retired New York City Police Lt. Dan Donadio, a former K9 officer whose teams led the Ground Zero recovery efforts, said he told Shields to leave the site during the initial hours of the recovery effort because Bear was not a trained rescue dog and might mislead emergency workers.

For background, see my comprehensive article and indexing of 30 blog postings/stories.

Is this dog abuser & convicted felon still on the take?

li.jpgScott Shields and his sister, Patty Shields, appeared before US District Judge Robert Sweet yesterday on Tuesday, October 14, 2008. The sentencing recommendations (seen here) had Scott Shields sentenced to 8 months in prison–then 3 years supervised release–with a requirement to make restitution of all the money plus an additional $300 and submit to mental health counseling. His sister Patty was sentenced to 12 months and one day, plus all that noted for Scott. The recommendations were followed for the most part, except that Patty’s sentence was reduced to 8 months.

In addition, the court decided to allow each felon to serve their sentences separately. Scott must report to Fort Dix, NJ’s Federal Minimum Security (country club type) Prison on November 12, 2008 to begin his time. And, during that time, Patty will remain free for the next 8 months, not needing to report for her prison sentence until Scott comes out. Unfortunately, that means she will be free to continue stealing monies through their bogus non-profit foundation. Obviously, the court had no comprehension of the fact that Scott and his sister have stolen far more money through the foundation than he did from FEMA and the Red Cross.

Many folks have been fighting for years for Scott to be investigated regarding his foundation monies, but to no avail. Many have filled out complaint forms with the state of NY regarding his foundation, but there has been no response. That is by far the bigger issue here as it allows both him and his sister to continue their criminal ways. Scott should be barred from ever being in a first responder role or in having such a nonprofit entity. How this can be achieved, however, is beyond my available knowledge.

It was interesting to see that within the ruling it was noted that Scott had a criminal record and that his current actions were so consistent with his con artist ways. Specifically, on April 25, 1990, Scott had been arrested on charges of Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud, and on October 24, 1990, was sentenced to 3 years probation and 6 months home confinement, as well as being required to make a $147,804 restitution and special assessment, in the US District Court for Connecticut.

Not only does it seem like Scott is continuing to get away with murder, but it is amazing to see the lack of media reporting on him and his purported good deeds through his foundation. It is hard to accept but I guess he’s gotten away with misappropriating hundreds of thousands from his nonprofit foundation, and via SSA disability and Workman’s Compensation with respect to his supposed Ground Zero injuries. It is sad to see the lack of response from the state of NY.

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It is hard to believe that it is already two years since I wrote the article, TRADING IN ON TRAGEDY FOR FAME: Succumbing to the Lure of Truthiness. In that article, I admitted to being taken in by this con-artist. I gave him a presence at my website, and collected over a thousand dollars for him (and his Golden Retriever Bear) through a raffle. But, that was not the true grievous aspect to my dealings with Shields.

Sadly, I learned that Scott was trying to build onto his 15 minutes of fame, but at the expense of his purportedly beloved Bear. Here was an animal who was quite senior in years at 12 years of age. An animal who had been injured by the dangerous metal debris on the pile. An animal that was used to either spending his summer days indoors in an air conditioned home or enjoying the cooling breezes off the Connecticut waters on Scott’s boat. But, tragically, now Bear was forced to walk the hot asphalt streets of the city day in and day out. Scott and Bear would venture out in the morning and continue until nighttime. Always dressed in his mock rescue outfit, embellished with numerous patches, with Bear sporting a bright orange rescue vest, Scott would seek out the folks who often frequented the area streets.

I was shocked to learn about what Bear was now being asked to endure, despite observers relating their own concerns about this to Scott. However, this fell on deaf ears despite the fact that Bear was reportedly now beginning to show outward signs of physical decline. So, I searched out veterinary health professionals in NYC that could possibly provide services for Bear. How excited I was when I learned of a woman who had a facility within blocks of Scott’s city residence, a facility that could provide hydrotherapy sessions for Bear. And, because Bear had been at Ground Zero, he would be given these quite expensive therapy appointments (over $100 per 30 minute session) at no charge. Excitedly, I relayed the great news to Scott, assuming that he would not delay in setting up appointments for Bear. Knowing how Bear loved the water, I thought this would be just perfect for him.

But, who could have predicted what happened next? Who knew that the reality of who Scott really was would finally hit home? You see, I was later contacted by the hydrotherapist who indicated that Scott had not come in for his scheduled appointments and no matter how often they were rescheduled for him, he just always failed to show. Obviously taking a huge financial loss in keeping these hours open for Scott, she finally had to sever this generous offer.

I contacted Scott who was unable to deny any of this. The man who was so concerned about his wonderful Bear just didn’t want to take the time away from parading up and down the streets. I guess it just wasn’t that important in the scheme of things. Such blatant disregard and neglect was beyond my comprehension, and I felt humiliated about having presented his story as an honest one. And although I removed every mention of Scott Shields and Bear from my site in the summer of 2002, the stench still remained.

DEATH SPRINGS ETERNAL
I continued to be updated about Scott’s sordid story, learning that Bear died on September 23, 2002, at almost 13 years of age. The proceedings following his death were filmed, as was his funeral. And, while it is not on film, and certainly only hearsay, I heard that Scott’s sister incongruously asked, “What do we do now? He’s dead.”

In my naiveté I could not even begin to fathom what was to be set in motion. I thought Scott would pocket the memories from his small brush with fame, and go on his way. But, just the opposite occurred. This silly man’s claims of having the most celebrated dog were actually being taken seriously. And, it appeared that the prodigious firm of Proskauer Rose LLP was also taken in by this man—despite his repeated evictions, poor business practices & bankruptcy—affording him even more credibility in their formation of his foundation in Bear’s memory.

Unfortunately, I’ve had difficulty generating mainstream interest in this story, and Scott has caused irreparable damage to the typically unheralded Search & Rescue heroes who are always there for us at devastating urban disasters …. such as that at Ground Zero following the infamous 9/11 attacks. And, he has continued to take money from unsuspecting folks as he touts his purported heroic deeds at trade shows, elementary & middle schools, Boy Scout Group meetings, and more.

Besides his theft of government funds, mail fraud & conspiracy to defraud the US after receiving almost $50,000 from FEMA and the American Red Cross, Scott Shields has collected years of disability for his purported Ground Zero injuries. Funny, how despite a claim of breaking both knees and an ankle, that he was doing just fine about a month later while walking behind Hilary Clinton in the October 8, 2001 Columbus Day parade.

Lt Dan Donadio, head of the NYPD’s canine teams in 2001, had 25 teams on the site round the clock for nine long months, scraping through the pulverized concrete. Scott Shields was down at Ground Zero for a little over a day, but managed to spin his experience into an epic. And, always on the look-out for the next big disaster, he further tried to benefit from the Katrina disaster.

Shields claimed 847 live rescues, evacuating under 6000 people, and that 11,000 people are alive today because of his group. Yet, rescuers who were there indicated the following: “His numbers exceed the entire 82nd Airborne’s numbers including the Superdome evacuation. So even if he took credit for all of their hard work, his numbers are still an aberration. … Scott was escorted out of LA and was on the water only ONE DAY. I spoke to the Chief and Superintendent of NOPD. They told me they never heard of Scott and there was NO WAY he rescued 5,000 or 11,000. … In those pictures, if you look, he is in shorts and just shoes, looks like he is on vacation while everyone else has knee pads on and is working, and that was just at camp.”

I have learned that the true heroes out there are not easily found. They do not do this job for the fanfare. They do not have media agents working on getting them mentioned in endless news articles. They are not obsessed with gaining notoriety. In fact, they’d rather not be in the spotlight. Rather, they struggle and train and work hard because they can, because they know they can help a fellow human being. These folks are a gifted bunch, and we do depend on their spirit of giving . . . for that time when it may be our lives hanging in the balance.

Self-Proclaimed 9/11 Hero Scott Shields Sentenced

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SEE IMPORTANT UPDATE TO THIS POST HERE.

Scott will appear before US District Judge Robert Sweet in courtroom 18c (United States Courthouse: 500 Pearl St., Room 1920, New York, NY 10007) on Tuesday, September 14, 2008. My disability keeps me homebound much of the time so I’d love to hear from anyone who believes they may be in the courtroom for this long-awaited event.

The sentencing recommendations, however, have already been made (and most likely agreed upon). I have reproduced the 17 page (pdf) finding which folks can see by clicking here.

Essentially, Scott Shields was sentenced to 8 months in prison, then 3 years supervised release, and is required to make restitution of all the money plus an additional $300, as well as submit to mental health counseling. His sister Patty was sentenced to 12 months and one day, plus all that noted for Scott.

The ruling also noted that on April 25, 1990, Scott had been arrested on charges of Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud, and on October 24, 1990, was sentenced to 3 years probation and 6 months home confinement, as well as being required to make a $147,804 restitution and special assessment, in the US District Court for Connecticut. I guess once a conman, always a conman.

Unfortunately, there is no mention of the even greater sum of money that Scott has misappropriated from his nonprofit foundation. Nor, is there any mention of the monies taken, over several years, via SSA disability and Workman’s Compensation with respect to his supposed Ground Zero injuries.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

It is hard to believe that it is already two years since I wrote the article, TRADING IN ON TRAGEDY FOR FAME: Succumbing to the Lure of Truthiness. Unfortunately, I’ve had difficulty generating mainstream interest in this story, and Scott has caused irreparable damage to the typically unheralded Search & Rescue heroes who are always there for us at devastating urban disasters …. such as that at Ground Zero following the infamous 9/11 attacks. And, he has continued to take money from unsuspecting folks as he touts his purported heroic deeds at trade shows, elementary & middle schools, Boy Scout Group meetings, and more.

Besides his theft of government funds, mail fraud & conspiracy to defraud the US after receiving almost $50,000 from FEMA and the American Red Cross, Scott Shields has collected years of disability for his purported Ground Zero injuries. Funny, how despite a claim of breaking both knees and an ankle, that he was doing just fine about a month later while walking behind Hilary Clinton in the October 8, 2001 Columbus Day parade.

Lt Dan Donadio, head of the NYPD’s canine teams in 2001, had 25 teams on the site round the clock for nine long months, scraping through the pulverized concrete. Scott Shields was down at Ground Zero for a little over a day, but managed to spin his experience into an epic. And, always on the look-out for the next big disaster, he further tried to benefit from the Katrina disaster.

Shields claimed 847 live rescues, evacuating under 6000 people, and that 11,000 people are alive today because of his group. Yet, rescuers who were there indicated the following: “His numbers exceed the entire 82nd Airborne’s numbers including the Superdome evacuation. So even if he took credit for all of their hard work, his numbers are still an aberration. … Scott was escorted out of LA and was on the water only ONE DAY. I spoke to the Chief and Superintendent of NOPD. They told me they never heard of Scott and there was NO WAY he rescued 5,000 or 11,000. … In those pictures, if you look, he is in shorts and just shoes, looks like he is on vacation while everyone else has knee pads on and is working, and that was just at camp.”

I have learned that the true heroes out there are not easily found. They do not do this job for the fanfare. They do not have media agents working on getting them mentioned in endless news articles. They are not obsessed with gaining notoriety. In fact, they’d rather not be in the spotlight. Rather, they struggle and train and work hard because they can, because they know they can help a fellow human being. These folks are a gifted bunch, and we do depend on their spirit of giving . . . for that time when it may be our lives hanging in the balance.

Remembering Golden Retriever Cracker

Award winning rescue dog dies
By Gavin Lonergan, Mourne Observer

AWARD-WINNING rescue Dog Cracker has died in Newcastle, at the advanced age of 14, after a short illness. The golden retriever, who had lived and worked with his owner, rescue dog handler Neil Powell, was specially trained for disaster work and helped locate survivors and victims of the Izmit earthquake in Turkey in 1999, which killed over 45,000 people.

Mr Powell told the Mourne Observer that the death of Cracker would leave a “big gap” in his life. He said: “I’d had him from he was eight weeks old, having gone over to England to collect him and his brother specifically.

“Cracker was a very special dog. He’d had a sore leg for the past three weeks and the vet told me it was broken and the calcium had been eaten away by the cancer. “But not once did Cracker let on, or growl or complain. You would not have known. He was that type of dog. “He will be greatly missed,” Mr Powell added.

The Search and Rescue Dog Association (SARDA), of which Mr Powell formed the northern branch, described the dog as one of the “heroes” of the Turkish earthquake in 1999.

A statement said: “For his untiring heroism during the rescue effort with the UK Search and Rescue team, Cracker was awarded the PDSA Gold Medal Award for Gallantry and Devotion to Duty. “He had to endure six months of quarantine following that deployment but had since been involved in many search operations throughout Ireland. He was also later awarded the Golden Borneo Award Gold Medal in 2000 for his heroism.

“A real gentleman of the doggy world, Cracker will be sorely missed by us all but especially by his owners, Neil and Kate Powell.”

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Here is an article of Cracker’s earlier work in Turkey.

Rescue worker speaks of Turkish ‘horror’
UK: Northern Ireland, BBC News, August 23, 1999

A search and rescue volunteer back from the Turkish earthquake has been describing the scenes of horror in the disaster zone. Dog-handler Neil Powell from Newcastle in Co Down searched wrecked buildings at two villages in the Instanbul area with his dog Cracker, a golden retriever.

Neil Powell: “Everybody was dead.” He said: “It was just devastation, it was absolutely dreadful.”

Once there, hopes of helping to find and rescue survivors were quickly dashed. He said: “Where we were, everybody was dead”.

Like some others he was critical of building standards in Turkey which he believed had contributed to the death toll, now feared to be as high as 40,000. “The builders were cutting costs, making an awful lot of money. They were using sand from the beach as well. The concrete was just being scratched off.

“As a result of that my dog, who has now been whisked away to quarantine, suffered terrible problems with inhaling cement dust from the work.”

Mr Powell and Cracker are part of the UK-based Canis organisation which trains rescue dogs for work in disaster zones all over the world. After their latest assignment the pair face being separated for six months as a precaution against importing rabies to the UK.

He said it was “very tough” on both him and the dog and he hoped that special arrangements might be made for rescue dogs in the future.

Mr Powell said it was still difficult to speak about the scenes of distress as he worked with grieving relatives in an attempt to recover their dead. “I have been involved in the Lockerbie air crash, recovering bodies there, and in various other places, but this was the most horrendous thing I have ever seen.”

Click here to see a video of Mr. Powell and Cracker – “Life returns to normal for rescue worker.”

Convicted Felon Scott Shields outsmarts the system again

li.jpg

SEE IMPORTANT OCTOBER 15, 2008 UPDATE HERE.

Sentencing for convicted federal felon Scott Shields WAS slated for June 27, 2008 at 4pm. Scott was to appear before US District Judge Robert Sweet in courtroom 18c (United States Courthouse: 500 Pearl St., Room 1920, New York, NY 10007).

Well, that is no longer the case. From shortly after 9/11 to now October 14, 2008, the man will remain free on bond as he awaits sentencing.

For some unidentified reason, Scott’s attorney has been terminated and now a new attorney (Joel Stein) has been assigned. As a consequence, the sentencing date has been moved to October 14, 2008. Sadly, it seems like closure will never come.

My disability keeps me homebound much of the time so I’d love to hear from anyone who believes they may be in the courtroom for this long-awaited event. This is the preliminary control date for sentencing so I will be trying to confirm the final date when it does become available. I will not be surprised if it takes place even later than the end of June.

Obviously, those wheels of justice, turn very, very slowly. And, you know what that means? Through his bogus nonprofit foundation, Scott is left for almost 3 months to swindle more folks, tell his lies to more innocent children, and whatever else he does to support himself in his expensive Princeton townhouse (despite not working one day since before 9/11).

Please, just imagine how much money he has taken in through his foundation to have allowed such a lifestyle all this time. Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

You can catch up on this Golden Retriever abusing con-artist by clicking here.

National Service Dog Eye Exam Day

The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) in association with Pet Health Systems, will host an unprecedented event in veterinary medicine the week of May 12, 2008. Over 140 board certified veterinary ophthalmologists will provide FREE eye exams to America’s Service Dogs. Pet Health Systems will provide a FREE lifestyle assessment, a biochemical profile, and complete blood count through their Pet Wellness Report and primary care veterinarians. It is anticipated that through these efforts Service Dog Health can be improved and potential disease averted.

Qualifying Service Dog groups include: guide dogs, mobility assistance dogs, detection dogs, and search & rescue dogs. Dogs must be active ‘working dogs’ that were certified by a formal training program or organization or currently enrolled in a formal training program to qualify. The certifying organization could be national, regional or local in nature. Essentially the dogs need to have some sort of certification and/or training paperwork to prove their status as a working Service Dog to participate in this year’s program.


Click on the image above to see a video about this special event

Click here for the steps to participate and to Register

Supposed Golden Retriever loving 9-11 hero finally exposed

bearatrest.jpg

SEE IMPORTANT OCTOBER 15, 2008 UPDATE HERE.

This photo shows an almost 12-year-old “Bear” during his 1 1/2 days on the pile at the World Trade Center’s Ground Zero. Old Scott and his old dog Bear were asked to leave then by Lt. Dan Donadio, head of the NYPD’s canine unit, due to their not being qualified.

It should be noted that dogs of this age would never be allowed into an urban disaster site, given the inherent danger of the situation. Urban Search & Rescue dogs must have specialized agility training and continually train to remain in working shape. They are typically retired as they approach 8 to 9 years of age.

The entire ugly tale can be found here:
TRADING IN ON TRAGEDY FOR FAME: Succumbing to the Lure of Truthiness.

But, the saga continues as evidenced in this July 15th New York Post article from Brad Hamilton and Ginger Otis, 9/11 ‘HERO’ CHARGED IN 40G SCAM

A self-proclaimed Ground Zero hero who says he and his golden retriever rescued victims from the World Trade Center rubble has been charged with fraud for allegedly ripping off $40,000 in federal relief funds. Scott Shields could face up to 35 years in jail after a Manhattan grand jury indicted him and his sister last month for allegedly swiping rental-assistance money from FEMA and other agencies.

Shields showed up in the days after the attack, accompanied by Bear, his cancer-stricken canine, but the dog was too sick to do any real work, and he two were on hand only for “a couple of days,” according to a former NYPD officer.

That part is not quite right. Bear was not cancer-stricken when he initially went onto the pile for two days in September 2001, and thereby “too sick to do any real work”. He was untrained and almost 12 years of age. No untrained dog would have been allowed into a situation that required advanced agility skills. And, certainly no working dog in urban search and rescue is on active status at such a senior age.

“There’s something wrong with the guy,” said Lt. Dan Denadio, who as head of the NYPD’s K-9 unit spent nine months at Ground Zero. “I don’t know how he got so far.”

Shields claims he and Bear “made the only live finds” at the site. “Nonsense,” Denadio said.

After his brief stint on the pile, Shields, who had resided in Greenwich, Conn., moved into an apartment across from the site – a swanky $3,182-a-month pad on Rector Place – and got one check for $16,443.50 from FEMA to pay for it, records show.

Shields collected thousands in additional rental assistance, the indictment says.

This copy of the felony indictment clearly displays the depth of the case that the US has against this brother and sister team. Although my legal knowledge is extremely limited, the 3 detailed counts of the indictment seem quite extensive and well documented. I can see by looking up the actual violations (through Title 18, Sections 641, 1341, 2) why the punishments are so steep.

Further court documents from Pacer indicate that Scott was arrested on March 20, 2007 and was freed on $50,000 bail with travel restricted to NY, NJ, PA, CT, NH & VA. Sadly, he is still traveling the circuit of dog, boat & security show events–providing presentations to both children and adults and peddling his version of the truth.

The last addition to Scott’s case file shows a Memo Endorsement that was reviewed by the court on June 18th, and so entered and approved on July 2, 2007. It seems that bail conditions were modified to include a mental health assessment and mental health counseling.

The trial is set for November 5, 2007, Federal Judge Robert W. Sweet hearing the case of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. SCOTT SHIELDS, and PATRICIA SHIELDS, Defendants.

Golden Retriever Riley: The Real Canine Hero from 9/11 – Updated

I have a page at the foundation site on our Disaster Search and Rescue Goldens. It details a great book, Dog Heroes of September 11th: A Tribute to America’s Search and Rescue Dogs. The book details the stories of 77 handlers and their Search and Rescue dogs who responded at the World Trade Center & Pentagon following the September 11th attacks. It shows a photo of Dissaster SAR Golden, Riley.

Riley is one of the most famous dogs of Sept. 11 because of a photo taken of him at the World Trade Center site a few days after the attacks. In the photo, Riley is in a basket being sent over a 60-foot-deep canyon to search the rubble of the North Tower. “Normally when we send a dog, the handler goes with him,” said Riley’s trainer, Chris Selfridge. “This time we decided it was more practical to just send the dog.

I also recently learned of video being available of Golden Riley through SAR worker and author extraordinaire, Susannah Charleson. She is most familiar with this apparatus on Riley as she has trained in activities with similar gear with her SAR Golden Puzzle.

It is wonderful to actually have footage of the Golden Retriever who really DID work at the World Trade Center (separating him from those preposterous claims made by Scott Shields).

Riley is now retired, and suffers from various skin problems and the like due to his time at Ground Zero.

Feb 26, 2010 Update
So sorry to hear this from
Riley’s dad, Chris Selfridge.

On 2/26/10, Riley passed away. He was our family pet, my friend and partner. He will be greatly missed. I love you Bub!

Remembering Golden Retriever SAR Dog Dusty

Dusty has been featured at our site since shortly after the 9/11 attacks. So, it is especially sad to learn of her tragic death.

Here are two wonderful articles, each with a video clip showing Dusty on the job.

Sacramento Metro Fire Mourns Loss Of Rescue Dog
CBS13, John Iander Reporting

Click here for video

(CBS13) SACRAMENTO Tomorrow, fire fighters around the nation say “goodbye” to one of their own. One who has four legs. “Dusty”, Sacramento’s famous search and rescue dog was killed two weeks ago.

These are tough days for Metro Fire Captain Randy Gross. wo weeks ago, he lost his partner, Dusty, his twelve year old golden retriever. The same search and rescue dog that worked with him on 9/11 hunting for survivors of the World Trade Center attacks. The best way to describe her is unwavering dedication and commitment. That was what she was all about. I wish we all could live her life like she did,” he says.

As randy showed CBS13 a scrap book of Dusty’s pictures, the phone kept ringing with calls of condolence. Dusty was full of energy and courage. Climbing ladders, no problem. Riding in helicopters, loved it. Searching for survivors in oily, muddy gunk – Dusty never flinched.

No one here at station 62 can understand how dusty got through a fence, ran out onto Bradshaw Road and was stuck by a car.

On Tuesday, dusty will be honored and remembered as a dog that kept making headlines. The first one ever to close a day’s trading at the New York Stock Exchange. The dog that met the president not once, but twice. The lover that became everyone’s friend, of course a cheese puff snack didn’t hurt.

Randy played with Dusty’s play toy for a moment, swallowed hard and told CBS13’s John Iander he will not get another search dog. Dusty was it.

____________________________________________________________
Search Dog Remembered for Dedication
By Elizabeth Bishop, Senior Internet News Producer

A Look at Dusty’s Life Video

Dusty, one of the most photographed rescue dogs during 9/11 will be remembered Tuesday for her search and rescue efforts.

Dusty was struck by a vehicle on March 12 in front of Sacramento Fire Station number 62. She suffered severe trauma and passed away the following day.

Along with her handler and partner, Captain Randy Gross, she looked for survivors during rescue efforts at the World Trade Center on 9/11 and after Hurricane Katrina. She served the nation and the community in a lot of ways,” Gross said. “She has been there in case disaster strikes, and she has been across the nation to help find survivors when disaster strikes. And to have a tool like that ready and to go to work immediately in our community is very important and not many communities have.”

Dusty was the first dog to be trained by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation for the Urban Search and Rescue program. Gross had recently announced Dusty’s retirement at a search dog event in Seaside, Monterey County, on March 10. She was to become Gross’ family dog.

“She loved to search, and that was her world and that what she loved doing,” Gross said. “As we watched her search at every training once a week for the past 10 years you could see the enjoyment and watched as she got old and a little arthritis in her back. She didn’t slow down. She just pushed her way through the pain. She loved doing it so much. It’s tough to see her go after she done what she had done and wanting her to retire. She lived her life to the fullest.”

Dusty’s memorial service will be held Tuesday at the La Sierra Community Center in Carmichael.

Huggable by Children: Replicas of Dogs That Searched 9/11 Ruins

Huggable by Children: Replicas of Dogs That Searched 9/11 Ruins
By David E. Dunlap, The New York Times

Shoppers on the lookout for something new, unusual and uniquely New York will find plush 9/11 search-and-rescue puppies on sale opposite ground zero. In time for Christmas: plush versions of the puppies that helped search ground zero are for sale.

Yes, it is a child’s version of the dogs that were taken to the ruins of the World Trade Center after Sept. 11, 2001, to search for survivors. And human remains.

The 8-inch-tall doe-eyed puppies, which cost $11.95, wear blue T-shirts with two offset squares symbolizing the voids left by the twin towers. That logo — in essence, the World Trade Center brand — also appears on human-size T-shirts, polo shirts, baseball caps and coffee mugs for sale in the Tribute Center at 120 Liberty Street. The proceeds help pay the center’s operating costs.

The private, nonprofit Tribute Center, which opened in September, is the first and only visitors’ center at ground zero. With evocative galleries and guided tours, it stresses “person to person history.” Or, in the case of the stuffed animals, “puppy to person history.”

Lynn Tierney, the president of the center, witnessed those desperate days after the attack firsthand as a deputy fire commissioner. She makes no apology for casting them in terms a child might understand. “Those of us who were there understand the impact that the presence of these dogs had,” she said. “Their job is noble and necessary. Their handlers are extraordinary people. This is a way of paying tribute to them.”

There’s more . . . .

Disaster Search & Rescue Dog Woody

Five years ago, when our television screens were filled with images at ground zero, we Golden-obsessed folks searched for images and tales of the wonderful Disaster Urban Search & Rescue Goldens. One of the dogs that I highlighted at my site’s page on these highly trained working dogs was Golden Woody.

In a recent article, firefigher Lt. Terry Trepanier talked about the 10 days that he spent on the pile with his guy Woody. I just love this passage:

The firefighter also recalled light-hearted moments. “I’ll never forget one member of our team who, during a rest period, asked, ‘Can’t you put that dog on Ritalin?’ ” Trepanier said.Woody, in Trepanier’s words, was bouncing off the walls. Energy is an asset in search and rescue dogs.

Read more…….

Dog Heroes are Honored in Book

Dog Heroes are Honored in Book
By Rose Mary Budge, Express-News Staff Writer

This news article details two special canines from Nona Kilgore’s book, Dog Heroes of September 11: A Tribute to America’s Search and Rescue Dogs. It truly speaks volumes

Denise Corliss’ mother pleaded, “Don’t go,” when her daughter called to say she and her dog were being deployed to the collapsed Twin Towers. But doubt about the mission never entered Corliss’ mind. Along with golden retriever Brit, she boarded a plane for New York, joining Deeds and his black Labrador, Kinsey, in rescue efforts. …Although Brit is a live-find dog, she often indicated with a turn of the head or a pause that something human was buried in the rubble. Throughout the grueling 12-hour shifts, Corliss learned to read her dog and to encourage further checking in certain places. To keep Kinsey happy, Deeds got firefighters to stage mock live finds during down time. It brightened things for everybody. Indeed, buoying spirits turned out to be a major canine contribution, says Margaret Logreira, a spokeswoman for the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation. The canines became warm and wagging links with normalcy and home.

Sometimes Brit would leave Corliss’ side and go sit next to a firefighter — although not just any firefighter. It always was someone slumped in sorrowful silence next to a wall, his head in his hands. “My dog knew who needed her most,” Corliss says. “Brit would single them out, let them pet her, and they got comfort from that.”

FBI agent Kathleen Antona came by every night to hug Kinsey. Deeds saw the agent afterward on the Space Shuttle Columbia search mission and she told him that his dog pulled her through 9-11.


Read more…..

Four-Legged Heroes

Dog Heroes of September 11th: A Tribute to America’s Search and Rescue Dogs
By Nona Kilgore Bauer

This book details the stories of 77 handlers and their Search and Rescue dogs who responded at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon following the September 11th attacks.

Riley , a golden retriever, is one of the most famous dogs of Sept. 11 because of a photo taken of him at the World Trade Center site a few days after the attacks. In the photo, Riley is in a basket being sent over a 60-foot-deep canyon to search the rubble of the North Tower. “Normally when we send a dog, the handler goes with him,” said Riley’s trainer, Chris Selfridge. “This time we decided it was more practical to just send the dog.”

Like Anna, Riley helped other rescuers just by being a lovable dog. “You could see the people change from being very down to wearing little smiles . . . even for just 10 seconds,” Selfridge said.

Read more about Golden Disaster SAR Dogs…..

Scott Shields – Rearing his ugly head again

bearatrest.jpg

SEE IMPORTANT OCTOBER 15, 2008 UPDATE HERE.

This photo shows an almost 12-year-old “Bear” during his 1 1/2 days on the pile at Ground Zero. Old Scott and his old dog Bear were asked to leave then by Lt. Dan Donadio, head of the NYPD’s canine unit, due to their not being qualified.

It should be noted that dogs of this age would never be allowed into an urban disaster site, given the inherent danger of the situation. Urban Search & Rescue dogs must have specialized agility training and continually train to remain in working shape. They are typically retired as they approach 8 to 9 years of age.

I guess it is fitting that on this military holiday I would receive the following post from David Klein about the infamous Scott Shields ( Fraud Probe Hounds Rescuer; Author, Nancy West providing real facts )

I have only lately become aware of the claims made against Shields. Your article serves to shed greater light. Until the aftermath of 9/11 I had never had any contact with rescue or therapy dogs of any kind. I worked as a volunteer, for six months, at St. Paul’s Chapel, across the street, literally in the shadow of the site. When Shields came to the Chapel with Bear he was greeted as a hero and Bear, G-d love him, was showered with affection. I am embarrassed to admit to having several pictures of myself, my wife (also a volunteer) and my son with Shields and Bear on the Broadway porch of the Chapel.

My wife and I subsequently ran into Shields (and Bear’s supposed “offspring,” Theodore) at several post-9/11 themed occasions. By that time, his constant self-promotion had started to grate on us, but we never would have suspected the depth of this man’s dishonesty and his seemingly effortless willingness to profit personally from the tragedy of 9/11. Even when we tried (unsuccessfully) to mail to him copies of some of the pictures we had (at his request) to an address supplied by him and had them bounced back as undeliverable, we did not suspect. I guess we were not yet over the typical “honeymoon” period following our experiences at Ground Zero, and were still willing to believe the best in everyone. Well, the honeymoon has come to a screeching end. Thank you for your tireless efforts to expose this #$@!&*. Keep it up.