Bretagne, the last known living 9/11 search-and-rescue dog, was laid to rest after a teary sendoff, befitting a hero.
The 16-year-old golden retriever was walked into a Houston area animal hospital on June 6 by her handler, Captain Denise Corliss. They were flanked by two dozen saluting members of the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department and search-and-rescue community, reports the Houston Chronicle. The tearful salute continued as her body was carried out from the clinic draped in an American flag.
Draped in an American flag, Bretagne's body receives a salute from firefighters and search-and-rescue personnel. (Photo: Texas Task Force 1/Facebook)
Corliss adopted Bretagne (pronounced "Brittany") as an 8-week-old puppy in 1999. After rigorous training, the two joined Texas Task Force 1 and Bretagne became the founding canine member of the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department's K-9 Search and Rescue Team. Their first deployment was to ground zero. About 100 search-and-rescue dogs scoured the rubble in the aftermath of the attacks, where a hunt for survivors turned into a search for human remains.
Until her retirement at age 10, Bretagne also responded to other major disasters including hurricanes Katrina and Rita. After her retirement, she continued to serve as a community ambassador, visiting local elementary schools to listen to young readers and spend time with students with special needs.
Bretagne celebrated her 16th birthday with much fanfare in September, including a dog's day in New York City filled with treats, toys and a special commemorative billboard.
The Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department issued a statement about a "firefighter death":
"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. We will remember her fondly, and continue serving the community with her as inspiration."