Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ground Zero therapy dog has died

Ground Zero therapy dog has died -

Roy Gross, Cody,Roy Gross and Cody

For two months after the Sept. 11 attacks, forlorn rescue workers could find an unswerving friend near the smoldering ruins of Ground Zero.

Cody asked no questions. Instead, he wagged his tail and gave his paw to people seeking some warmth.
"What Cody did at Ground Zero was remarkable," said Roy Gross, his owner and chief of the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "Workers couldn't speak from the anguish. They would drop to their knees, start petting him and cry. Cody knew he had a job to do."

The golden retriever died two weeks ago, Gross said. On Thursday, a foundation he established in the dog's name will contribute $1,000 toward buying medical equipment for neutering feral cats in the organization's spay/neuter van.

Gross got Cody from a breeder in 1996 after the puppy's original owner returned him for reportedly being too aggressive. Gross put Cody to work visiting schoolchildren and the elderly.

After Sept. 11, the county SPCA dispatched its mobile animal hospital to tend to the search and rescue dogs that labored over the pile of debris.But Cody had a different mission: comforting afflicted police officers, firefighters and onlookers in the turbulent days that followed.

Daniel Donadio, commanding officer of the New York Police Department's canine unit at the time of the attacks, said the hospital helped sustain his unit's 34 dogs and the officers who partnered with them as they searched the rubble for human remains. "I couldn't have done it without them," he said. "Those animals had a soothing effect on people -- just to interact with the dogs and be comforted by them."

The 12-year-old canine garnered praise and plenty of media attention for his nurturing ways.

The day before his death, Cody rode in the hutch on Gross' Harley-Davidson to the beach, played ball and took a swim.

Those wishing to make donations to the Cody Foundation should contact the Suffolk County SPCA at 631-382-7722.

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