NEW YORK, NY – Ssiller, a 7-year-old black Labrador Retriever is ready to be a dog. He’s served as a Transportation Security Administration explosives detection canine for the past six years at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). And this past weekend, he turned in his badge and now gets to spend his days at home “just being a dog” instead of working at the busy airport.
Ssiller was named after Stephen G. Siller, a Brooklyn firefighter who, on September 11, 2001, skipped out of a family golf outing to head into Manhattan when he got the news of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Siller drove his personal vehicle to the entrance of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it had already been closed for security. Determined to carry out his duty, he strapped on his gear and raced on foot through the tunnel to the Twin Towers, where he gave up his life while saving others.
TSA canines named after those who died on 9/11 carry two identical first letters to start their names, like Ssiller.
The canine retired Sept. 25, the same day of the annual Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers 5K Run and Walk in New York City and the dog and his handler, Transportation Security Inspector Christopher Neeson, were on hand to start the race, which retraces the firefighter’s footsteps from the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel (formerly the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel) to the World Trade Center site on September 11, 2001.
Ssiller has worked exclusively with Neeson, who is adopting the dog to keep as a pet in his retirement. Neeson will be training for 12 weeks with a new canine partner at TSA’s National Canine Training Center in San Antonio, Texas, to bring back to work at JFK.
“Ssiller has been an ideal partner,” Neeson said. “It’s going to be a big change for him in retirement, one that he deserves for so many years of service to the mission. I imagine he’ll miss working in the airport.”
In honor and appreciation for his work as a TSA explosives detection canine, Ssiller and Neeson were presented with a plaque at the Tunnel to Towers 5K Run/Walk that recognized Ssiller’s “immeasurable contributions, untiring spirit and faithful service to the mission of protecting our nation’s transportation systems and dedicated service to our country.”