Last Known Sept. 11 Search Dog, Bretagne, Dies At 16

On Monday morning, the people of Texas, had to say goodbye to a true national hero. A 16 year old Bretagne was euthanized last Monday in Fairfield Animal Hospital in Cypress, Texas.

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Bretagne was the last known remaining search and rescue dog to have participated in the Sept 11 rescue party. Bretagne and her owner were part of Texas Task Force 1, which was involved in the search for survivors the months following the attack. Searching for survivors at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the attack was her first-ever deployment.

After September 11, she was involved in many other search and rescue parties, including in the aftermath of hurricanes Catrina, Ivan and Rita. She had slowed down in recent years due to her age, but she was still involved in various projects. She was a beloved member of Houston’s Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department, whom she served till her retirement in 2010.

“She has always taken her job as a search dog seriously, but herself not so much. Always ready for a belly rub, or a treat. In remembering her first deployment at the World Trade Center … even then, she knew who needed the comfort of a dog, which firefighter needed to hold her close and stroke her fur.”

Houston’s Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department also paid tribute to Bretagne in a touching Facebook post on their official social media profile. “Each week she would visit a first grade classroom and listen to young readers, providing a non-judgmental ear and soft paw.” “She also visited students with special needs, such as autism. Her calm demeanor and warm heart helped the young and old through their own difficult moments.”

Bretagne retired at the age of 10, however, she continued to actively serve the community, as an ambassador for CFVFD at organized events and by assisting other search dogs in their training. She was nominated for the Hero Dog Award by the American Humane Association and has even met former president, George W. Bush. Bretagne was also a star in a non-fiction book about search dogs. She recently celebrated her 16th birthday.

Bretagne and Corliss were flown to New York to celebrate her birthday. She had to be euthanized due to kidney failure. “She was really anxious last night and she just wanted to be with me. So I laid down with her, right next to her. When she could feel me, she could settle down and go to sleep. I slept with her like that all night,” said Denise Corliss, her handler, who has been with her since her first deployment. She will be missed. Bretagne was given a funeral fit for a true hero.