Bretagne, believed to be the last surviving 9/11 Ground Zero search dog, was given a hero’s farewell on Monday when she was laid to rest at 16 years old due to kidney failure. She was draped in an American flag as her owner, Denise Corliss, carried her past a line of rescue workers and firefighters at the Cy-Fair Fire Department in Harris County, Texas, to be euthanized.
When she was just two years old— a fresh graduate of Disaster City—Bretagne became part of the Texas Task Force 1 deployed to the World Trade Center site after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. She and Corliss spent two weeks full of 12-hour days searching rubble for human remains, but what Bretagne did for the living was even more powerful. To rescuers, firefighters and locals missing friends, loved ones and colleagues alike, Bretagne became so much more than a helping paw—she became a therapy dog.
She was later deployed to help in Hurricane Katrina, Rita and other storms, and worked as a local fire department search and rescue dog, before retiring from active duty when she was nine. But she still visited elementary school classrooms every week, where kids who were too intimidated to read out loud would read to her and develop their skills.