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Bretagne, the Last Known 9/11 Search and Rescue Dog, Dies, Is Honored by Firefighters

Bretagne photographed at age 13 in Cypress, TX.  

A fitting farewell for a hero. Bretagne, the golden retriever who was the last known 9/11 search and rescue dog, was given a tearful sendoff before she was euthanized on Monday, June 6.

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The 16-year-old dog, who was also deployed for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, had retired but was physically ailing as her owner, Denise Corliss, walked her into the Fairfield Animal Hospital in Houston on Monday.

Bretagne, who worked 12-hour days alongside 300 other dogs at Ground Zero, walked past an honor guard of firefighters from the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department, who saluted as she passed by on her way into the veterinary hospital, according to the Houston Chronicle.

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After her death, Bretagne was brought out in a casket covered with a Texas flag and carried by pallbearers from the local search and rescue unit.

Corliss spoke to the Today show on Monday about Bretagne’s final day. “She was really anxious last night and she just wanted to be with me,” said the heroic dog’s owner and handler, who worked by Bretagne’s side for two weeks straight at the World Trade Center site in 2001. “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 and Denise Corliss
Bretagne and Denise Corliss

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Bretagne retired from search work at the age of 9 in 2009, but remained active, visiting firehouses, helping to train other search and rescue dogs and helping elementary-school kids learn to read by sitting by their side and listening. She celebrated her 16th birthday last September back in NYC, where she was pampered and greeted with toys, treats and a gourmet cheeseburger.

“Some may say that the most a dog could be is a pet. However, to the over 400 members of the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department, Bretagne was a civil servant, a hero and is family,” the department said in a statement on Monday. “We will remember her fondly, and continue serving the community with her as inspiration.”

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