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A black labrador retriever named Jake has lost his battle with cancer. Jake was a rescue dog that worked a Ground Zero to help find survivors of the World Trade Center attack. It is unknown if he was suffering from a World Trade Center illness.

No one can say whether the dog would have gotten sick if he hadn’t been exposed to the smoky air at Ground Zero, but cancer in dogs Jake’s age — he was 12 — is quite common.

Some rescue dog owners who worked at the World Trade Center site claim their animals have died because of their work at Ground Zero. But scientists who have spent years studying the health of Sept. 11 search-and-rescue have found no sign of major illness in the animals.

The University of Pennsylvania is doing a study on the health of search and rescue dogs that worked at Ground Zero. They are doing a study to make sure the dogs are not the proverbial canary in the coal mine and a warning of things to come for the humans who worked alongside them.

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