The final surviving 9/11 rescue dog will always be remembered as a hero

9/11 rescue dog as a hero

Few dogs have made such a permanent impression on history as Bretagne, who passed away last week at the age of 16. A dog’s time on earth is all too fleeting in compared to the lasting effect they make on our lives.

Bretagne was just a year old when she and members of the Texas-based Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department’s K9 Search & Rescue Team were sent to Ground Zero in the days following the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001.

Bretagne spent weeks searching the debris for survivors and the remains of those who had perished, working with her owner and handler Denise Corliss and providing emotional support to her fellow rescuers.

Hundreds of dogs helped out, but eventually Bretagne would be the last of them.

The heroic actions Bretagne performed at Ground Zero weren’t the only times she volunteered during a national emergency. Later, she participated in heroic rescue operations in the wake of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina.

In spite of her official retirement from active duty in 2010, Bretagne kept giving back to her neighborhood in different ways. Since then, up until a few weeks prior to her passing, she had been a frequent guest at the neighborhood elementary schools, giving nervous pupils a patient audience to help them practice reading.

Bretagne was honored as the final canine responder in the wake of 9/11 last year. Bretagne visited Ground Zero for a memorial service on the 14th anniversary of that tragic day, her face then obviously worn by time.

Corliss made the agonizing decision to put an end to Bretagne’s suffering when her condition started to deteriorate in recent weeks. Numerous service members gathered on Monday to say goodbye to the brave canine on her last stroll while also honoring her as a friend and coworker.

Like all working dogs, Bretagne’s years of dedication and the lives she affected may never be entirely measured, but those who knew her best will carry on her legacy for all time.

The Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department said in a statement that although “some may believe that the most a dog could be is a pet, to the nearly 400 members of the department, Bretagne was a public servant, a hero, and is family.” We shall cherish our memories of her and carry on serving the community in her honor.

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