Riley and Bailey – Two 9/11 Hero Dogs

The tragedies of 9/11 brought out the heroes inside a lot of Americans, and some of those heroes were the dogs that helped scour the rubble of the World Trade Center and Pentagon to help bring closure to the families of the victims of the terror attacks. Riley and Bailey were two of those dogs.

As a way to say “thank you” in the aftermath of 9/11 VPI provided complimentary pet insurance policies to the service dogs involved in the rescue operations. Recently our CEO Dennis Drent received an amazing letter from Eileen Roemer, the owner of two service dogs involved in the rescue operations:

Dear Mr. Drent,

I am writing to tell you how much I appreciate all that you and your staff, the employees of Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) Company, have done for me and my two 9/11 Pentagon Golden Retriever heroes, Riley and Bailey. With the death of Bailey on Saturday, July 24, 2010, your very generous donation of pet insurance will come to an end. Words cannot express my gratitude for your support over the years since 2001.

Riley died five years ago and Bailey died last Saturday at the age of 14. He had a great life and was really quite healthy over the years. Those two certainly brought me a ton of happiness and pride in their accomplishments.

You can see Bailey’s story featured in the recent book by Elise Lufkin, “To The Resuce, Found Dogs With a Mission.”

Again thank you so much for your generous contribution to the health and well-being of my dogs. I am forever grateful.


Eileen J. Roemer

After reading this letter I contacted Ms. Roemer to find our more about these two hero dogs and their lives.

At the time of the attacks Eileen was an FBI agent and a Navy Reservist. She had become interested in search and recovery after taking a course in body recovery at the FBI. She already had Riley and after meeting a woman who trained search and rescue dogs she decided to train and certify Riley to be a search and recovery dog—something Riley both enjoyed and excelled at!

Riley 911 Hero Dog

Bailey came to Eileen through an animal control officer. The officer had found Bailey at a breeder’s “kennel” chained to a post. He was emaciated, covered in fleas and ticks, and had rotting teeth. Eileen took the dog in with the idea of getting him healthy again and having him go to a family she knew. Plans fell through and as fate would have it, Bailey found a home with Eileen. After taking Bailey in, Eileen realized he had the drive and abilities to also be a search and recovery dog and she decided to train him as well.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Eileen was working at the Pentagon. She left the building at 7:30 am and at 9:43 am American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon killing the person who had replaced her and thirty-four others.

Eileen, Riley, and Bailey worked along with 27 other dogs at the Pentagon searching for human remains. For Bailey it was the first search and recovery he had ever worked. Eileen would alternate dogs on 12-hour shifts searching the rubble for human remains. Workers would excavate debris from the crash site and place in a privacy area. The dogs would make a pass over the rubble and then workers with rakes would pull out anything that was found—and according to Eileen the dogs found something on almost every pass. The process was repeated for twelve long days until all the debris had been sorted and all the remains had been found.

Riley and Bailey’s heroic work has been honored at the 9/11 Dogs memorial page or Found Dogs With a Mission.


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