Monday, March 15, 2010

Legendary German Shepherd Hero "Trakr" Dies at Age 16

Legendary German Shepherd Hero "Trakr" Dies at Age 16

Legacy of 9/11 Rescue Dog to Live on through Cloned Puppy, Growing Interest from Hollywood in Creating a Movie

Trakr, the heroic German Shepherd whose 9/11 rescue, legendary police work and community service made him one of the world's most revered dogs, died peacefully early this week of old age at his home. He was 16, according to spokeswoman Linda Press.

Trakr first attained hero status in the 1990s as both a K9 police and a search and rescue dog whose acuity for locating people, evidence and stolen goods quickly became renowned. Extraordinarily tenacious, Trakr was credited with hundreds of arrests and recovered more than one million dollars in stolen goods. He received accolades and global media attention throughout his career as a result of both his accomplishments and his ability to capture the hearts of all he touched.

But search and rescue was Trakr's true calling. His exceptional abilities were showcased around the world following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Trakr and his partner, then Police Officer James Symington, were one of the first K9 search and rescue teams to arrive at Ground Zero. In addition to locating numerous victims, Trakr found the last survivor buried beneath the rubble. For his heroic efforts, Trakr was presented with the Extraordinary Service to Humanity Award by Dr. Jane Goodall, United Nations "Messenger of Peace," and was featured in books and magazines dedicated to 9/11 heroes including, Dog World and In the Line of Duty.

Commenting on Trakr's life, Symington said, "I am honored to have been Trakr's partner, best friend and lifelong companion. He possessed a rare combination of uncanny intuition, pure heart, and relentless courage and has been an inspiration to so many. He'll live in my heart forever."

Throughout his career, Trakr and Symington were closely involved with various charities. Trakr was the first police K9 to have his head shaved for Cops for Cancer, a national initiative for kids with cancer. He was also a regular guest of various children's organizations, schools and hospitals where kids would eagerly line up to rub his belly and get his autographed police card. Remarkably perceptive, Trakr always reached out to children with disabilities who were unable to come to him. Without exception, he would seek them out, licking their hands and evoking smiles and giggles.

While Trakr dedicated his life to fighting for others, the fight for his own life was often perilous. Symington helped him narrowly escape death when a few misguided Canadian Police officials proposed a euthanasia policy for all retiring K9 dogs. After his 9/11 rescue, Trakr collapsed from smoke and chemical inhalation, burns and exhaustion. Likely a result of this exposure, Trakr was disabled for the past two years, but he continued to be a devoted companion and inspiration to many.

In 2008, Trakr received international attention again when BioArts International named him the "World's Most Cloneworthy Dog." This honor enables Trakr's DNA to be used to clone a puppy, which Symington, now head of entertainment talent management firm Prodigy Talent Group, plans to name Prodigy.

Trakr lived in Los Angeles with Symington and his wife. The couple has been approached by various Hollywood executives and best-selling authors to turn Trakr's dramatic and poignant story into a book and movie. For more information about Trakr's amazing life, visit his "Trakr - Heart of a Hero" Facebook page.

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