News & Politics

Last Known 9/11 Search Dog Dies at 16

(D Fahleson/Houston Chronicle via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

Farewell, Bretagne.

The last known living 9/11 search dog has died in a Houston suburb at age 16.

Bretagne (BRIHT’-nee), a golden retriever, was euthanized Monday at a veterinary clinic in the Houston suburb of Cypress, according to a statement from the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service.

Bretagne was 2 years old when she and her handler, Denise Corliss, were part of the Texas Task Force 1 sent to the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan after the terrorist attack brought down the buildings on Sept. 11, 2001. They spent 10 days at the scene searching rubble for human remains.

About two-dozen first responders lined the sidewalk leading to the veterinarian’s office and saluted Bretagne as she walked by for the final time Monday, The Houston Chronicle reported. An American flag was draped over her body as she was carried out of the facility.

Bretagne retired from active duty at age 9. At 15, she was taken by Corliss to the 9/11 memorial and participated in an interview with Tom Brokaw of NBC News. Corliss told NBC’s “Today” that in recent weeks Bretagne began experiencing kidney failure and slowing down.

Bretagne was nominated for a Hero Dog Award from the American Humane Association in 2014. An online biography posted by the organization says that Bretagne served as an ambassador for search and rescue dogs in retirement, often visiting elementary schools.

Bretagne and Corliss met with former President George H.W. Bush at his presidential library late last year.

A post on the Texas Task Force 1 Facebook page remembers “the valiant effort and dedication to finding a victim trapped in a destroyed building that Bretagne showed us on a regular basis.”

I have had the great pleasure of meeting a lot of military and police dogs and the people they serve with over the years and never cease to be amazed at not only the prowess of the dogs, but the extraordinary relationships they have with their colleagues. While visiting one military installation, we got to spend half a day with the K-9 specialists. Some were drug dogs, some were bomb dogs, all were very playful and friendly while off duty, and all business while on (I always feel safer flying in and out of a small military facility that’s using bomb dogs than I do going through the TSA screenings). When their human partners spoke of them it was always with a respect that bordered on reverence.

Thank you for all you did, sweet pup, and condolences to all of your human friends who miss you today.