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Rescue efforts call on dogbooties.com for help

Search and rescue efforts at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center have put a Duluth business in the national spotlight. People Magazine has joined national, state and local news organizations in recognizing the role of Arrowhead Fabric Outlet,...

Search and rescue efforts at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center have put a Duluth business in the national spotlight.
People Magazine has joined national, state and local news organizations in recognizing the role of Arrowhead Fabric Outlet, which makes the booties being worn by search dogs at both disaster sites.
Search dogs were part of the initial rescue response at both sites and continue to be used in recovering bodies. The dogs must walk through the building debris such as glass, metal, concrete and other rubble.
Foot protection for the dogs is critical, since even a small cut can put a highly trained dog out of commission. And it happened to be an area of dog care that Arrowhead specializes in.
While the company provides fabrics and related items for sewing all types of outdoor gear, it specializes in dog booties. It's a niche market largely driven by the Northland's mushing community.
Arrowhead has become so entrenched in that market, it operates dogbooties.com. Louise Russell, who owns the business with her husband Greg, has been involved with the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon as a sponsor and board member and works with a local musher.
On the afternoon of Sept. 11, she got a call from a previous customer in Chesapeake, Va. The man's company provided equipment for search personnel and dogs, and he ordered 500 booties for the mounting rescue effort.
Then the word got out that more booties were needed, she said, and it just kept going.
Soon, Arrowhead was getting calls, e-mails and faxes from all over the country and abroad. Russell adapted her proven, well-fitting sled dog design to a tough rubbery material. The result was an easy to put on bootie that will stay on a dog's paw while providing maximum protection.
A New York musher got involved to help get the booties to the rescue workers. But they were skeptical, and already had piles of donated pet quality booties that were worthless under such conditions.
So the musher showed them the Arrowhead booties and how to use them. And the demand hasn't stopped.
"It's not a high tech thing," said Russell, a former nurse. "I've sent out 2,100."
Then she got a call from the Pentagon Crash Disaster Center, which wanted booties as well.
With many people wanting to do something to help, orders and donations have been pouring in from groups and individuals ranging from $5 to $1,000.
She has set up dogbootie.com to handle donations and rescue orders, and has cut the price on those booties. A fabric company has helped out with donations of material. Republic Bank and the Greater Duluth Chamber of Commerce are also involved.
"Until I get an official word to stop, we're going to continue making them," she said. "They'll have enough to replenish the stock they use and keep some on hand."

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