The Last 9/11 Search-and-Rescue Dog Dies at Age 16
Entertainment| | By Margo Gothelf
The last known surviving rescue dog who served during 9/11 passed away on Monday.
Bretagne (pronounced Britney) was just 2-years-old during her rescue mission at Ground Zero with her owner Denise Corliss. The K9, who had just graduated from Disaster City and was part of Texas Task Force 1, was sent to search for survivors and human remains after 9/11. The pair spent 10 days at the site searching with around 100 other search and rescue dogs.
The dog was put down on Monday after her health began to fail. In recent weeks she suffered from kidney failure and began to slow down. When Bretagne didn’t eat for three days, Corliss knew it was time to say goodbye.
“She was really anxious last night and she just wanted to be with me,” Corliss shared with Today. “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.”
Bretagne received a special send off as she took her final steps. When she entered the veterinary office, representatives and volunteers from the Texas Task Force 1 and the Cy-Fair Fire Department lined the streets and saluted the dog. They stayed until everything was over and saluted her body which was draped in an American flag as she left the office.
“This was a very small way for us to pay tribute to a dog who truly has been a hero,” David Padovan, Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department Captain, explained. “Just because she’s a K9 doesn’t make her any less part of our department than any other member.”
After 9/11, Bretagne went on to help out at several natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina, Ivan, and Rita. At the age of nine, Bretagne retired from active duty and worked with children at their school in Texas.
Once retired, Bretagne lived quite the life. At the age of 15, she got the opportunity to visit the 9/11 memorial with Corliss. In 2014, the dog was a finalist for the American Humane Association’s annual Hero Dog Award. The dog also became the main character of a non-fiction book about senior dogs and got to meet with president George H.W. Bust at the George Bush Presidential Library as part of the celebrations. The Penn Vet Working Center also honored the dog in 2014 by naming another service dog after her, Bretagne 2.
Bretagne also had a big sweet 16 celebration in New York City including a ride in a vintage taxi, a heroes welcome, a billboard with her picture in Times Square, and even got “the bone of the dog park!” Check out her special day below.