11 Sep 2018 Remembering the Hero Dogs of 9/11
When the World Trade Center collapsed on September 11, 2001, nearly 10,000 emergency rescue workers joined in the efforts to help. More than 300 of those heroes were dogs.
Today we remember and honor the Hero Dogs of 9/11 along with the countless people who had their lives irrevocably changed by man’s best friend. From search and rescue dogs to comfort dogs to bomb detection dogs, these canines’ stories of courage, healing and long-lasting legacy must never be forgotten.
Bretagne (pronounced Brit-nee) was two years old at the time of the attacks. She and Denise Corliss, her owner and handler, worked at Ground Zero for 10 days as their mission went from rescue to recovery.
Corliss, a volunteer firefighter with the Cy-Fair Fire Department, began training Bretagne for search and rescue work at just eight weeks old. The duo soon became a FEMA-certified canine team that also worked in the rescue missions during Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ivan.
Bretagne retired from formal search work at 9-years old, but continued to work as a goodwill ambassador for her local fire department, and as a reading assistance dog at a local elementary school.
Bretagne remained the only living 9/11 search and rescue dog until June 6, 2016, when she was laid to rest just shy of 17 years old.
As Bretagne entered the animal hospital in Cypress, Texas, firefighters and search and rescue workers from the fire department lined the sidewalk and saluted. She was carried out later, her body draped in an American flag.
Riley, a Golden Retriever that assisted in the 9/11 search and rescue efforts, was trained to find live people. Still, he did help recover several bodies of firefighters. But Riley worked desperately to find the living – that was his job.
His search partner and human explained, “Riley knew the people he continued to find were dead. He was never a formally trained cadaver dog. His job was to find the still living. I tried my best to tell Riley he was doing his job. He had no way to know that when firefighters and police officers came over to hug him, and for a split second you can see them crack a smile – that Riley was succeeding at doing an altogether different job. He provided comfort. Or maybe he did know.”
Coby & Guinness
Coby and Guinness, both Labrador retrievers, searched tirelessly through the rubble of the World Trade Center before returning home to Southern California to retire at their handler’s home.
Both of these dogs worked for an even larger and more crowded area than they were ever trained for, searching for 11 days in 12 hour shifts. Their reward was a nap or a chew toy.
Together, they found the remains of dozens of people in the rubble.