GLEN ROCK, NJ - While Congressman Josh Gottheimer visited the Glen Rock Dog Park in its beginning stages of construction, he would admit Jamie Hazan and his working dog Sergeant Bernstein, were the most honored guests of the day.
On Sunday, November 17, Glen Rock Dog Park organizers met at the future site of the park, which has recently broken ground after five years of fundraising and planning.
"Thank you all for coming and putting an exclamation point on this project," Eileen Hillock, mother of the original organizer Michelle Hillock, said as she got her daughter on the phone from overseas so she could share the moment.
Michelle Hillock, a 20-year-old Glen Rock resident who is currently spending her college semester abroad in Ireland, got the ball rolling as a Girl Scout Gold Award project, with the assistance of her mother, Eileen Hillock. Eileen was in the South Tower during the 9/11 attack and is now the Board President of the Glen Rock NJ Dog Park.
Gottheimer visited the future site of Glen Rock’s dog park, which is dedicated to 9/11 search and rescue dogs, along with Hazan, a North Jersey 9/11 first responder, advocate, and 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund beneficiary. More than 300 dogs took part in the search, rescue, and recovery efforts at Ground Zero in Manhattan.
“This project is truly a testament to the Glen Rock community and to Michelle Hillock’s spirit, and how we can all come together, whether it’s through volunteerism or contributions or hard work, to support an important cause,” Gottheimer said. “We must continue to get the backs of those who bravely had ours and stood up to terrorism on that tragic day. We also remember those we’ve lost since, and we remember all the dogs who played such a vital role in the search and rescue efforts. I’m glad we’re honoring them in this way right here in Glen Rock.”
The last living person rescued from Ground Zero, 27 hours after the collapse, was found by a search and rescue dog. The last known 9/11 search and rescue dog was laid to rest in 2016.
Funds for the park have been raised by the community and the park is being constructed at no cost to the Borough of Glen Rock.
Gottheimer is also a cosponsor of bipartisan legislation — H.R. 2623, the Search and Rescue Dog Protection Act — to provide search and rescue canine teams the same protections currently given to services animals, which will provide greater convenience in commercial establishments and with travel logistics.
Gottheimer was joined on the Nov. 17 visit by Glen Rock Dog Park Board President Eileen Maher Hillock, Vice President Lisa Schor Babin, Board Members Christine and Jay Ross, fourth generation Glen Rock resident Phil Gulmy of Gulmy Construction, and Brian Houseworth of Jan Fence Company. The park’s vendors have contributed much of their work on a pro bono basis.